A bit over eight years ago Slabbed appeared in the local cyber scene as a blog dedicated to covering the wind-water insurance court battles when a nice lady from central Mississippi the world would later know as Nowdy and I met at the Cracker Barrel in Hattiesburg and made common cause to tell the coast’s story from a local point of view. In the time since we witnessed the Scruggs prosecution and it’s use as a hammer against people who had lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina. Nowdy would later describe the phenomenon as “JustUs” and it usually reared it ugly head in the Mississippi judicial system when massive amounts of money were at stake.
Yesterday, thanks to a bombshell legal filing at the Mississippi Supreme Court, JustUs again reared its ugly head here on the coast with news that the major players in the Chancery case Almond v Singing River et al, were holding a meeting in which the Plaintiff’s counsel in Almond were excluded. Less than three hours later an order staying Almond was entered by special Judge Breland Hilburn one day before motions on his recusal from the case were to be heard.
Ms. Almond and around two hundred other Singing River retirees have been deprived of their day in court thus far in favor of a forced settlement that saddled the scandal ridden pension plan with an unqualified trustee whose main qualifications appear to be his political connections. To add to the Alice in Wonderland like quality we have Jackson County Board of Supervisors pretending they are not a full partner in the Singing River disaster yet the county is paying the legal fees of the politically connected lawyers that helped caused the Singing River disaster.
For the Singing River retirees that are being lined up like sheep before being herded to the financial chop shop, the events of the past month must be absolutely maddening. Worse yet for morale is the punditry advocating for a settlement that sweeps possible illegal acts under the rug while the largest single group of retirees are cut out from access to the legal process all while a proposed compulsory settlement is allowed to advance before Judge Louis Guirola in US District Court.
But now the clients of local lawyers Earl Denham and Harvey Barton whose state court case has been stonewalled for months at least know the fix is in against them and they have no chance at receiving justice from Judge Hilburn and Special Master Singletary. And despite Mr. Singletary’s protestations to the contrary, to the public this secret meeting between defense counsel and the Court reeks worse than a dead skunk in the August heat. And it’s not just the public that feels that way.
Last night SRHS Watch published the reaction of a local attorney without a financial horse in the Singing River litigation. It begins this way:
I am an attorney, and tonight I am hanging my head with shame and disappointment. Mississippi’s judiciary, bar and people are presented with yet another display of apparent back-room dealing by lawyers, a judge and special master.
That lawyer is far from alone in those sentiments.
Now it appears we have a major scandal resolving the Singing River pension meltdown to go with the original scandal of retirees being lied to for years by the Health system. Judge Hilburn, Magistrate Singletary and their Special Fiduciary need to be gone ASAP.