Judge rules to send case involving $14 Million in MCI Legal Fees to Mississippi Court
Wednesday, the bankruptcy judge in the Southern District in New York ruled to send the MCI Settlement case to Mississippi Court to determine whether the $14 million paid directly to Langston Law Firm for their service as outside counsel retained by the Attorney General’s Office is illegal. This ruling allows for a suit filed on behalf of the Office of the State Auditor against Langston Law Firm to move forward in Mississippi Court based on the Auditor’s claim that it is unlawful under Mississippi Code 7-5-7 to use public money to pay outside counsel retained as special assistants to the Mississippi Attorney General, except out of the Attorney General’s contingent funds or monies appropriated by the Mississippi Legislature.
“The judge’s ruling today and the previous ruling of Federal Judge Wingate in Mississippi validates our position that the $14 million paid to Langston’s Law Firm belongs to the taxpayers of Mississippi,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering following a conference call with the bankruptcy judge in New York. The suit filed on behalf of the State Auditor’s Office should now move forward in Mississippi Court.
The MCI settlement in 2005 was in favor of the State of Mississippi and resulted in $100 million, and an additional $14 million paid directly to Langston Law Firm for special assistant fees. It is illegal for public funds to be spent except upon a two-thirds vote of the Mississippi Legislature. The State Auditor’s Office contends that the Langston Law Firm received its $14 million fee in violation of the Mississippi Code and Mississippi Constitution. The Office of the State Auditor contends that any fees on that basis should have been approved by the Mississippi Legislature.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering Press Release