Hello! Hello! Is this the party to whom I am speaking?

Saturday Night Live became Tuesday morning reality when State Farm attorney, the “honorable” Shelia L. Birnbaum, hit the wrong button and sent the media an email asking if Attorney General Jim Hood could be charged with Contempt of Court.

I bet you did Shelia – the panic button – when Hood’s office replied, “No, you can’t!

The case was dismissed because the allegations were false, according to Hood’s spokeswoman, Jan Schaefer.

Living in a travel trailer for two-and-a-half years can make folks crazy; but, it doesn’t make them dumb. No one’s ever called Shelia Birnbaum dumb either – most say she’s smart as a fox.

After yesterday, there’s no reason to doubt they’re right. Birnbaum looked at the clarification Hood’s office sent to the media and noted the General was about to take his coat off – his message to the media meant he was tugging at his tie.

Cowboy, you better saddle up – I do believe the State Farm’s fox is about to find out what Hood had waiting in the henhouse.

9 thoughts on “Hello! Hello! Is this the party to whom I am speaking?”

  1. I can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve! I wonder if his criminal investigation is still on-going? At the very least, I would think that SF was forced to comply with Judge Senter’s agreement (which is sealed I believe?) — that is where the hearing ended before recess and before all the lawyer negotiated for 5 hours. It makes sense that the settlement in Natchez would be sealed, so that Judge Senter’s agreement would remain that way and so the grand jury information remains that way. I loved the AP article by Michael Whathisname that said SF still doesn’t know what the grounds are for that grand jury investigation and then goes on to suggest that it is the NFIP. Hood is probably investigating congruently with the Feds?

  2. Belle we are hearing the feds (in this case Dunn Lampton) are stonewalling the NFIP investigation. That is probably why Jim Hood is stepping into the breach there. I think your observation is the key to understanding this mess. Were all of Hood’s criminal investigatiosn stopped per some of the blogger observations or was it just Mr Hood’s investigation on behalf of coastal residents. The reporting out of the AP implies the former, not the latter observation.

    So if Mr Hood does indeed have an investigation going into claims dumping then State Farm and other insurers should be worried because it did occur. Were these occurances honest mistakes or a systematic scheme to defraud the taxpayers? That is the billion dollar question.

  3. You know what I was just thinking? That was quite a press conference he gave. VERY partisan.
    Hood called Monday’s vote, “A partisan act.”

    Was that the gloves coming off?

  4. Two questions:

    1: Do we all agree that Hood’s characterization of the dismissal as a victory is, at best, disingenuous? After all, we all understand that ALL cases end by a dismissal. It is the terms of the deal that matter. Since Hood insisted that the terms be confidential (an interesting position for a public servant, entering into secret deals), asserting the “dismissal = victory” formula is slimy, is it not?

    2> What’s with the deleted post? Censorship?

  5. claimguy, I was wondering who asked for the settlement to be sealed. I thought as you did that the AG wouldn’t ask for such since his office is a state office and he is a public servant, so I question whether he asked for it or not. How do we know that SF didn’t request it? Also, I wonder if SF was able to show proof or reasonable cause that Hood could not proceed with his criminal investigation. Maybe the judge read it as he did? After all, SF still doesn’t know what the basis of his investigation is and whether that falls under the agreement not to prosecute or not. As SOP811 noted, “were all of Hood’s criminal investigations stopped . . . or just Mr. Hood’s investigation on behalf of the coastal residents.”

    That deleted comment was mine. I asked the host to take it down because it was redundant to my previous post.

  6. I deleted the comment at the request of bellesouth – a courtesy I believe should be extended to anyone in the absence of a “delete” option available to those who comment.

  7. Welcome back Mr Claimsguy and thank you for your observations. I wish I knew what was in the settlement. If indeed there is a new grand jury investigation we will find out soon enough. We do not censor or moderate comments except in cases of liable or slander and only then after the fact. I hope Belle’s and Promises explanations suffice for the deleted comment.

    Also Belle that comment you left on the legal news line site was spot on IMO.


  8. claim guy, IMHO, this was no usual dismissal.

    The case was filed by State Farm (plaintiff)and their claim was Hood had violated the terms of the Letter of Settlement he agreed to in his official capacity as Attorney General.

    At the beginning of the hearing, the judge stated he would read the Letter and issue a ruling. However, he allowed hearing to continue while he made his decision.

    Some claimed State Farm then conducted a “fishing expedition” in an attempt to catch the basis for Hood’s claim that his new criminal case was was unrelated to the case settled by the Letter – an understandable use of the time available while awaiting the judge’s ruling on the Letter.

    In that light, Hood’s performance as a witness was simply a “fish not taking the bait”. However, few, if any, making comment on Hood’s performance considered that possibility.

    Remember, this hearing took place before documents in the Scruggs’ case – the defense Motions and government’s response – showed Hood’s relationship with Scruggs was not the close relationship that State Farm and others had presumed.

    Consequently, there is no longer a basis IMHO for the assumption that the judge’s ruling on the Letter of Settlement was tied to the matter addressed in the sealed Settlement of State Farm versus Hood.

    The usual meaning of a judge ruling a case is dismissed with prejudice is “A dismissal with prejudice is a judgment rendered in a lawsuit on its merits that prevents the plaintiff from bringing the same lawsuit against the same defendant in the future”.

    If the settlement was, as Hood claims, an agreement he made to protect a different case, then logic and law would consider the judge’s ruling and the settlement agreement two different matters.

    In other words, there was no “ambiguity” about the Letter of Settlement agreed to by State Farm and the Attorney General applied only to the case settled by the letter and any criminal conduct specific to that case.

    After the hearing in Natchez, WLBT reported “State Farm Settles with Hood” quoting Hood as saying “What occurred under seal deals with matters that are criminal in nature and I cannot comment on that. They filed a suit making all these allegations and the case is dismissed”.

    Adding http://www. and copying this link into your URL should take you to the WLBT report wlbt.com/Global/story.asp?s=7839972

    Note this report also contains quote from State Farm’s lawsuit related to Hood’s relationship with Scruggs – since subject to questions of validity as stated above.

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