Gee this is beginning to sound very familiar, a three pack

I was catching up on Jackson Jambalaya this morning and was cross pollinated, for lack of a better term on this post about Madison Businessman Cliff Torrence’s scrape with the law for allowing underage drinking at his residence in violation of Mississippi’s “social host” statute, which is invoked when an underage drinking party gets out of control and the police are called in. If it was not for the fact that I’m going to highlight three posts the post title for the Torrence saga alone would run under the lede: Judge Breland Hilburn: Where cases go to die a quiet death. Here’s why:

Thus, Mr. Torrence managed to escape the thirty-day sentence Judge McKinley wanted to impose and only paid a thousand-dollar fine. The 2014 violations occurred while he was serving the sentence of unsupervised probation. Mr. Phillips filed a motion to show cause on July 23, 2014 and asked the court to revoke his probation and incarcerate him for 90 days. The motion also disclosed Mr. Torrence had not completed the Courtwatch analysis program. Earlier post with copy of each case file.

The hearing was supposed to be held on August 18, 2014 but was continued until November 10, 2014. The November hearing did not take place as Judge Steve Ratcliff recused himself on November 7. He stated that the “court had been contacted by someone other than defense counsel on behalf of the defendant with information about this case.” The Mississippi Supreme Court appointed Retired Circuit Judge Breland Hilburn to hear the case on November 13.

The docket contains no entries after that date. There are no motions to schedule a hearing, no notices, no nothing. The case is just there, collecting dust.

Moving right along Kingfish has been giving daily updates on legendary Mississippi TeeVee reporter Bert Case, who died earlier this week after a long battle with sepsis. I’m not certain there is a TeeVee reporter in this area that can hold a candle to Bert’s lifetime body of work. For those of you down here that have no clue about Bert, here is a good place to start.

Finally Jackson Jambalaya is going to war, literally, with the Island View Casino Continue reading “Gee this is beginning to sound very familiar, a three pack”

Friday Omnibus: Love them new 1095s like red beans and rice

Pro Insider tip: You know its gonna be a good fee generator when the bookkeeping staff becomes weepy worried about tax season deadlines.

The Department of the Treasury has concluded that some employers, insurers, and other providers of coverage need additional time to adapt and implement systems and gather, analyze, and report the information. Employers and coverage providers are encouraged to provide returns and statements as soon as they are able to do so.

The only hiccup I see is in the implications of the extended 1095 deadlines on the deadline for 1040 filers in particular.

How about a couple of stories we’ve been following. First up it appears the light bulb has finally turned on in an area of Hizzoner’s brain that was once thought to have been completely and irreversibly damaged:

Where’s the DOJ money? Bay council blocks mayor’s $88K transaction ~ Wes Muller

Caught in a trap…..

Ah hem, lest I digress we had a major federal court hearing in Gulfport on the Singing River Hospital Disaster. Of particular interest was the Singing River/Jackson County gang that can’t seem to shoot straight waxing both apologetically and indignantly attempting the play the different crowds in the different venues. What follows is the indignant: Continue reading “Friday Omnibus: Love them new 1095s like red beans and rice”

JustUs: Jackson County Chancery Court #SRHS Proceedings Rotten to the core

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. Continue reading “JustUs: Jackson County Chancery Court #SRHS Proceedings Rotten to the core”

What we have here is an ol’ fashioned bar fight

And it’s the bar down here on the coast that is having the bare knuckle brawl folks and the shame of it is I haven’t had a chance to add some much needed commentary but that changes with this post, which I’ll update as I gain time through the day. The short story is this. In one corner there is what I’ll term “the settlement retirees”, their counsel along with the Jackson County political establishment (most of it anyway). In the other corner are the “we want to be made completely whole retirees” and their counsel. The money stakes here are huge which is why the fight is turning very nasty, again exposing some old rivalries that I first noticed back during the Scruggs prosecution.

For me the question is settling now a better deal than fleshing things out via litigation. I did notice that a concern raised here about the handling of attorney fees was addressed.

First things first, someone sent me “retirees that want to be made whole” attorney Harvey Barton’s 2009 judgment via anonymous email a while back and I can’t find it in my extensive email archive.  Nevertheless someone took the time to mail me a hard copy and I agree the time is right to explore the judgment and more importantly the legal concepts behind what Judge Persons found.

I’ve also seen and will post the second recusal motion of Special Judge Hilburn as it exposes some of the fault lines running under the Bar in greater detail.

Before I do any of that its worth pointing out that Slabbed began covering the Singing River Pension Meltdown because it was the exact type of story to which we were tailor made to cover and not because of the gruesome car crash quality to it all but because Slabbed could help get information out to help the retirees make informed decisions.  We’ve reached the inflection point. Updates will be posted beginning with the flying muck below the jump as time allows.

Update #1: Continue reading “What we have here is an ol’ fashioned bar fight”

Comment bump | SRHS Retirees meet your new State Judge: “One need only briefly peruse the state court record to recognize the manifest dereliction of judicial function”

And best of all new Singing River Hospital Trustee Scott Taylor could likely give us all manner of background since he was there. If I were in your shoes I’d be preparing for the worst because that is very likely what is coming. The following is via Nunn Yabidnez on “What is Singing River Health System and the Jackson County Board of Supervisors Hiding? A comment bump“:

Well, this is going from “interesting” to downright weird. L. Breland Hilburn is now (at least until someone files a motion that gets granted) the special judge over the SRHS mess. For those who don’t know, which is likely most folks, Judge Hilburn was involved in the Scruggs-Wilson-Luckey love triangle. He gave Scruggs and Co. an “interesting” midnight-hour order that attempted to keep the tobacco money out of the reach of Luckey and Wilson, who had attempted an end run by going to federal court in Texas. The Texas court punted the whole thing back to MS fed court, which basically laughed at Hilburn’s order. Why does this matter? Who knows, but new SRHS Trustee Scott Taylor was the guy advising Scruggs that Luckey and Wilson owed Scruggs money, etc., and Hilburn seemed to be awfully sympathetic to Scruggs’ positions. And perhaps even more interesting, after his retirement from the bench, Judge Hilburn has been associated with the Eaves firm in Jackson, a _plaintiff’s_- with-a-capital-P firm (John Arthur Eaves Sr. and Jr., the latter also having all sorts of interesting facets, including a stepson who recently bit the head off of a live mouse, hamster or gerbil). And Pope Mallette and Cal Mayo, of Oxford and Scruggs’ attorneys in the Wilson v. Scruggs litigation, are repping at some of the Plaintiffs in the SRHS mess. Plus, Mike Moore was looking to get into the SRHS mess, too. Sure, MS is a fairly small legal pond, so there will be overlap, but this is getting a bit ridiculous. What remains to be seen is just what these plaintiffs/mass tort guys (and Mayo-Mallette) see as the payday in suing SRHS and the pension plan for being, basically, broke.

A post from the old “folo.us” site (long defunct, and Tom Freeland of FOLO-turned-NorthMSCommentator died earlier this year) talked about Hilburn’s role in Wilson v. Scruggs. I am not saying the content is correct or incorrect, but am simply quoting it in its entirety. The links to the various opinions/orders cited are dead, but if anyone is interested in them, I’m sure they are available elsewhere. Here it is:

“Sic ‘em
March 22nd, 2008

Well dang, boys and girls, NMC’s balky scanner is still holding up my next addition to our Bobby DeLaughter file, but never fear, I’ve got another yarn to share with you, and before it’s over, that name will briefly appear.

Lately I’ve been corresponding with a national reporter who, for both papers and magazines, has covered Dickie Scruggs for some years now. Yesterday as we were speculating about where all this goes next, he told me a story going back to the days before Luckey and Wilson became separate cases. With his permission, I’ll share it (now augmented with some further research of my own), since he rather expects the FBI may — or at least should – be looking into the questions it raises about Dickie Scruggs’s influence over yet another judge . . . Continue reading “Comment bump | SRHS Retirees meet your new State Judge: “One need only briefly peruse the state court record to recognize the manifest dereliction of judicial function””