Who do lawyers for Attorney General Jim Hood really represent: the people of Mississippi or the employees of state agencies where they are assigned?
Hood has more than five dozen attorneys scattered among state agencies providing legal advice and services. Two — Sandy Chesnut and Joseph Runnels — are assigned to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
They have taken an overly protective role toward the DMR, where questionable tactics have been used to shield the agency from the glare of public scrutiny.
Michael Lanford, deputy attorney general, says, “When you have AG lawyers assigned to the agency, then they get independent legal advice, objective, (saying) this is what the law is. That’s why we’re there.”
But how “objective” is that legal advice when it hinders those outside the agency who want to know what is going on with public funds inside the agency?
Lanford contends that what’s discussed between an attorney and a client is confidential in most cases.
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