I almost hate to bring this up…..

But then again never in my life would I have ever expected the Mississippi State Auditor to use the power of the office to obstruct journalism in the public interest so as to spare his political friends and associates embarrassment in the wake of the DMR scandal. Auditor Pickering earned himself a contempt of court citation for that one, which he happily took for the family.

I mention this because one of my better sources there in Jackson County has unequivocally indicated to Slabbed that Jackson Co. D.A. Tony Lawrence’s daughter previously clerked at Dogan and Wilkinson and has publicly expressed an interest in working there after law school. If what I am told is true and Pascagoula is a small enough community where such things would be widely known in the legal circles, I question the thinking that went into Mr. Lawrence leading any investigation into the doings at SRHS, where Dogan and Wilkinson played a central role in the unfolding disaster.

I never had much faith in the Mississippi investigative community and what little I had was shattered when Pickering, former AUSA John Dowdy and pals misused a federal Grand Jury subpoena to seal up the DMR records.  Even if Mr. Lawrence has the best of intentions, the appearance of a conflict of interest is enough for me. Mr. Lawrence should step aside.

12 thoughts on “I almost hate to bring this up…..”

  1. Dottie P. Dodson v. Singing River Hospital System and Singing River Hospital

    This was referenced yesterday by another poster. The MS Supreme Court decision is worth a read.

    Full opinion: http://courts.ms.gov/Images/OPINIONS/7635.PDF

    Summary: http://law.mc.edu/judicial/case.php?id=17182

    Dodson argues that the judge should have recused himself because the law firm of Colingo, Williams, Heidelberg, Steinberger & McElhaney, counsel for Singing River, represented the judge when he was serving as executor of his mother’s estate and because one of the firm’s attorneys served as campaign treasurer of the judge’s campaign committee. …

    … One of the partners at Colingo Williams served as treasurer in the judge’s election campaign. Another Colingo Williams lawyer served as attorney of record in the estate proceedings of the judge’s mother for which the judge was charged nothing. In fact, the judge recused himself in another case involving Colingo Williams when it was disclosed about the partner serving as his campaign treasurer.

    The summary at the link is actually in error, the facts in the corrected Supreme Court opinion indicate (6):

    Specifically, Karl Steinberger from Colingo Williams represented Judge Harkey when he was serving as executor of his mother’s estate. The representation concluded on June 12, 1998 with fees totaling $10,087.63 paid by the estate.

    The unbilled legal work for Judge Harkey was described in the opinion as follows (6):

    James Heidelberg also represented Judge Harkey and his wife in a residential construction action which was filed on May 25, 1995. A stipulation of dismissal was entered in that action on January 13, 1999. Judge Harkey and his wife were not charged for the services provided in the construction litigation. It was also established that James Heidelebrg of Colingo Williams served as campaign treasurer of the Dale Harkey Campaign Committee in 1998 and that Colingo Williams hired three of Judge Harkey’s assistant district attorneys, one before he was elected Circuit Court judge and two after.

    Paragraphs 7 and 8 are also interesting reading. Joking about withholding contributions if Judge Harkey recuses…that’s some funny shit there- lmfao.

    1. Mr. Lawrence began his practice in a general litigation firm and tried civil lawsuits in both Mississippi and Alabama. He served as Assistant District Attorney from 1996 to 1999 in the Nineteenth Circuit Court District and as a Special Prosecutor in other Circuit Court Districts in the State of Mississippi. He joined the law firm of Colingo, Williams, Heidelberg, Steinberger, & McElhaney on September 20, 1999, and practiced primarily in the area of medical malpractice defense.

      http://www.msda19.com/meet.html

  2. Lots of things are “widely known” in both legal circles and otherwise, but often, widely “known” really means “strongly and reasonably suspected based upon what information is out, but there is no evidence that would be properly admitted in a court proceeding” and so, no way to prove it to a legal sufficiency.

    That said, Tony Lawrence used to be with a firm in which Roy Williams and Mike McElhaney, who were/are with Dogan & Wilkinson, were partners. It is on his official bio at the DA’s webpage:
    “He joined the law firm of Colingo, Williams, Heidelberg, Steinberger, & McElhaney on September 20, 1999, and practiced primarily in the area of medical malpractice defense. Mr. Lawrence was elected District Attorney for Jackson, George, and Greene Counties in November, 2003 and is presently serving in that position.”

    Joe Colingo retired and died last year, and that firm is now Heidelberg, Steinberger, Colmer and Burrow.
    You might want to check with your source in Jackson County, but from what I’ve heard, HSCB is, for the most part, legit and they don’t fool around with trough-snarfing and other “interesting” practices. And one or more HSCB members don’t seem to turn up most times (or really, any time) when something “interesting” occurs down in the Jackson County area. Plus, one or more of the partners at HSCB do seem to turn up in places that, shall we say, more community-minded lawyers might be expected to turn up: for example, Karl Steinberger has been on the board of the MS Center for Legal Services for quite a while. That isn’t an endorsement, they just may be more careful, smarter or luckier, but I’d suspect that if they were into things that were “interesting,” it would be more “widely known.”

    As to his daughter joining Dogan and Wilkinson, well, I would not advise my daughter to do it, whether I were the Jackson County DA or not. But she isn’t my daughter and she shouldn’t be taking career advice from posts to Slabbed. That said, though, she might want to use all available information and consider what is “widely known” in the decision-making process. And who knows? There may not even be a “Dogan and Wilkinson” to join when the time comes.

    1. You might want to check with your source in Jackson County, but from what I’ve heard, HSCB is, for the most part, legit and they don’t fool around with trough-snarfing and other “interesting” practices.

      No need to check with anyone on that Nunn. I agree 100% – nothing but straight shooting at HSCB. In fact I highly recommend them for that exact reason.

  3. When this is all said and done and the current scandals pass, all of the Pascagoula law firms will put the names of their lawyers in a big jar, shake it up, then start deciding who will form new firms. This has been going on for 40 years. You could take all lawyers and judges over 50 years of age and find they all practiced together at some point. Time to re-form all of the firms with different partners very soon. I have a feeling when this happens if your name is Watson or Williams you will end up firmless ,be in a small office with only a secretary and maybe your son. One thing for certain, they don’t have Joe Colingo to kick around any more.

  4. Jackson County is small and rural. I believe the case concerning SRHS should be moved to a different county/location and the Feds need to appoint indivudual investigators with no ties to south Mississippi. This is the only way to be fair considering all of the incestual legal relationships

  5. I agree with you 007 but this creates difficulty for the employees and retirees to attend a courthouse outside of Jackson County. If this case is left in the courtroom of Judge Neil Harris I feel certain he will be fair and rule based on the facts. Rest assured he has never been on one of those “Take a Judge Fishing” trips on board the BILL A BULL HOURS or any other 60′ Hatteras owned by an attorney.

  6. Doug, you mentioned the scandal at the DMR. The scandal is still ongoing. Nothing there has changed. It is still run by Barbour, Bryant, and mostly – Palazzo. Their working people have been fired; the employees who were on Walker’s payroll kept their jobs on the upper floors, and the empty positions were stacked with felons, unskilled labor, money handlers, yes men, and puppets. Nothing has been done to improve what was going on there before. As a matter of fact, it is my opinion that the Walkers are still working with these people to keep things flowing smoothly to the GOP coffers.
    Has the new BP money been released yet?? Now that the focus is on the SRHS, it would be a very opportune time for the money machine at the DMR to start the engine again (if it ever stopped). The DMR was in poor financial shape when they checked the money under Guice. Can you please tell me who is giving them money to keep operating?? If there aren’t some changes down there, these coastal legislators better start looking for other jobs. It is like they have turned a blind eye to what is going on there. And now, they are looking the other way, or looking for a way out of the SRHS. How can these people sleep at night after what they have done to people’s lives??? Those poor people at the DMR are working in fear. And now, the hard workers of the SRHS, who have worked all their lives and depended on the hospital to protect their retirement money, will either have to work until they die, or live on welfare. And the Repubs call themselves Christians every chance they get. I am not judging, but I know someone who will be judging…..and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.

    1. Mona

      I highly doubt the Walkers are in on anything involving the the DMR these days and the coast politicians are probably in fairly good shape. Afterall, Wiggins has done his fair share of political parading to fool a good majority into voting for him again when the time comes.

      As far as business goes at the DMR, I would tend to agree with your statements based on what I have heard. As far as the firings go, the only thing that could be done at this point is for those who have been fired to come forward and speak the truth. I don’t see that happening. It would be interesting to see if any commonalities exist with those who have managed to survive the human meat grinder that operates in binary code.

  7. Mona is telling it like it was and continue to be at DMR. If anyone that is not connected with this agency believes they are operating with the public’s interest in mind, think again. As long as Barbour, Bryant, Palazzo, McCaa, etc. runs these entities, things will never change for the good.

    I cannot knock Senator Brice Wiggins. I may be naïve but I really think he is supporting the people in this SRH pension debacle. Where are the other elected officials? Oh, yes, they are around trying to be reelected.

    1. Mr. Rodgers,

      I understand how many people in the general public may support Wiggins actions but I personally think they are nothing more than a ploy to lessen the impact of a dirty little past that exists. The DMR boat trips and his old man’s wild cannon chase funded through the DMR/government funds being just a few known.

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