Monday, January 28, 2008

Incest in Dixie: The Mississippi Legal Profession

As the Scruggs wildfire rages, there has been much bloviating by the media and politicians over reforming the legal system in Mississippi. Unfortunately, the only reason these pinheads are even discussing such changes is because the Scruggs scandal hit the fan. While they are shocked, shocked mind you, at the extent of the corruption, they are also interesting in keeping in place a system that benefits them while proclaiming that they are doing something about the problem. Their dupes in the media, like the uncritical lapdogs most of them are, refuse to truly examine the flaws in our legal system, beginning with the Mississippi Bar.

Last week Chief Justice Jim Smith and Mississippi Bar President Bobby Bailess came down from Mount Olympus, leaving with The Clarion-Ledger editorial board some proposed reforms while receiving much worship and praise by our esteemed media. Of course, they thought nothing was really wrong with the system itself as the editorial page stated, "I don't believe (the corruption) is widespread," says Smith. But, says Bailess, "We want to come up with a remedy that will be meaningful and responsive." Ah yes, the old "we want a proportional response" tactic. Can't have the rubes reforming the system as they might break some of the china. Let the gods on the State Street Mount Olympus handle things as they always have. In typical mealy-mouthed and uncritical fashion, the editorial page dutifully wrote:
"Smith and Bailess are right to worry about the public perception of the judiciary.
Given these scandals, it's understandable that "justice for sale" is being alleged.
Smith and Bailess should name a panel to recommend to the Legislature reforms of the judiciary that could be made to insulate judges more thoroughly from the potential for corruption. Smith favors appointment of judges at the appellate level, at least. Certainly, having judges take cash in the form of campaign contributions from those who appear before them is an issue.
The panel could also look at the way cases are handed out to outside counsel by the office of the state attorney general, which also can involve millions of dollars in legal fees for private attorneys doing public business.
While hiring private trial lawyers to sue on behalf of the state has proved lucrative for the state's taxpayers, too, the method of selecting them and determining their pay is problematic.
Mississippi's judiciary needs reform by a bipartisan, impartial panel."

Article . Just to make sure that we get the point, Mr. Hampton wrote in an earlier column (January 20, 2008) "The legal system cannot function without public confidence. People must have faith in the law and courts to fairly administer it. It's time to reexamine that system with reform in mind. No joke." Wow. Strong stuff as he strikes a blow for..........what? justice? True reform? Nope. Just studying the problem.

The fix is in as the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court, the President of the Mississippi Bar, and the largest newspaper in Mississippi had their summit and announced they wanted to have a panel study the problem. While the subject of judicial corruption and awarding state contracts (to sue) to campaign donors were somewhat addressed, the subject of reforming the Mississippi Bar, which licenses, investigates, and prosecutes attorneys was completely ignored. Just as Katrina didn't wake up the leadership in New Orleans, apparently the worst legal scandal in US history failed to wake up our elites in Mississippi for if there is part of our legal system that should be examined it IS the Mississippi Bar.

What exactly is the Mississippi Bar and why should we examine its role in the Mississippi legal system? It is the Mississippi Bar that licenses attorneys. The Bar handles complaints against lawyers, investigates the complaints, and makes recommendations on disciplining wayward attorneys as the Mississippi Code (Section 73-3-3) empowers the Bar with such responsibilities and powers while the Mississippi Supreme Court issues the final decision on disciplinary measures taken against attorneys.

The problem with this arrangement is incest. Lawyers elect the members of their governing body, write their own by-laws, and discipline themselves. The bar is governed by a board of commissioners and officers, who are elected by the members of the bar (meaning lawyers). Section73-3-105 Articles 3,4, & 5 of the Mississippi Bar by-laws,

The code of conduct for lawyers is determined by the bar (lawyers), subject to final approval by the MSC. Sec. 73-3-143. Thus the lawyers determine what is ethical. The bar is given the authority to handle complaints by consumers against lawyers. However, the bar deters bar complaints by its policy of how bar complaint forms are issued. If one wishes to file a complaint, the bar website states: "You may file a complaint against a Mississippi lawyer by contacting The Mississippi Bar. You should call or write The Mississippi Bar to request a complaint form. The address and telephone number are listed elsewhere in this brochure. The Mississippi Bar will be happy to furnish you a form on which your complaint can be written." There are no complaint forms available on the bar's website. One can feel the sarcasm dripping from that last sentence as the Mississippi Bar sticks a finger in the eye of the public with a smile on its face. If the bar is truly interested in helping victims of crooked lawyers, then it should make the forms available on its website. Its simply hard to believe that the bar refuses do so in a 21st century where even the IRS publishes all of its forms on its website. It is ironic that the federal government moves faster than the Mississippi Bar.

However, back to the "process". A lawyer for the bar investigates the complaint and submits his findings to the Committee on Professional Responsibility. The committee, made up of lawyers, appointed by officials of the bar (which are elected by lawyers), then determines what action should be taken on the complaint. This can range from a dismissal to filing a request with the Court to take action against the lawyer. Mississippi Bar complaint. Keep in mind that the bar can NOT investigate or prosecute a lawyer unless a complaint has been filed or the attorney has been convicted of wrongdoing. The power to investigate attorneys by the bar is very limited. Suppose a lawyer is accused of wrongdoing; the bar can not do anything regardless of probable cause unless a complaint has been filed. The failure of leaders of the Mississippi legal profession such as Justice Smith and Mr. Bailess to not ask for more power to prosecute corrupt lawyers gives away their true agenda. They are all lawyers and if there is one thing they all agree on, regardless of political party, it is to keep you, the public, from looking too closely at their noble profession even as it tarnishes and torpedoes the rest of the state.

The incest among Mississippi lawyers becomes much more obvious when compared to other professions regulated by the state. The following is a sampling of how various professions are regulated by Mississippi:

Nurses: Chapter 15 of Title 73
The nursing profession is governed by the Board of Nursing whose members are appointed (to staggered terms) by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. "Charges may be brought upon sworn affidavit filed by the Board of Nursing against any licensee who has allegedly committed any act in violation of this chapter that is grounds for disciplinary action." (Sec. 31) The Board does not wait for the filing of a complaint by a patient or a conviction of a crime by a nurse. It can initiate its own investigation into a nurse's conduct.

Realtors: Chapter 35 of Title 73 The Real Estate Commission regulates Mississippi Realtors. Members are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Commission establishes standards for the profession and licenses Realtors. Section 73-35-23 states "The commission is hereby authorized and directed to take legal action against any violator of this chapter. Upon complaint initiated by the commission or filed with it...". UNLIKE THE BAR, the Commission has a complaint form that is available on its website,

Dentists: Chapter 9 of Title 73. The State Board of Dental Examiners oversees dentists and consists of members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate (Section 7). "Each member of the board and each licensed and practicing dentist and dental hygienist is constituted an agent who may investigate all complaints and all alleged cases of noncompliance with, or violation of the provisions of this chapter and may bring all those matters to the notice of the proper prosecuting officers, where it appears probable that an offense has been committed..." (Section 45). Unlike the Bar, the Board can initiate investigations instead of letting the newspapers do its job for them or waiting for a member brave enough to file a complaint. Complaints can be made via telephone and complaint forms, UNLIKE THE BAR, are available on the website.

Public Accountants: Chapter 33 of Title 73, h Once again, the members of the Board of Public Accountancy are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate (Section 3). The Board regulates and licenses public accountants, sets fees, promulgates standards, and disciplines errant accountants. UNLIKE THE BAR, the complaint forms can be downloaded from the Board's website, complaint form and the website also states the the Board can initiate its own complaint.

Mortgage Brokers: licensed by the Department of Banking and Consumer Finance. Chapter 18 of Title 81, The Commissioner of the Department of Banking is appointed (once again) by the Governor with (once again class) the advice and consent of the Senate. Due to the financial nature of the profession, the Department employs examiners that conduct audits of Mortgage Brokers every two years. The Department can initiate its own investigations.

There is no disputing the level of incest in the Mississippi Bar between lawyers and those empowered to regulate them. Unlike other professions, Bar officials are NOT appointed by the state but are instead either elected or appointed by the members of the Bar. They write their own rules and discipline themselves. They make it more difficult for victims of crooked lawyers to file complaints. They play good cop/bad cop with the Mississippi Supreme Court. In the event the Bar does prosecute a lawyer, the actual punishment is meted out by the Court. Consequently, the Bar can claim it tried to prosecute the lawyer but then blame the lack of justice on a lenient Supreme Court. "I'm sorry, we tried to get that scumbag but the justices on the court reduced his proposed disbarment to a reprimand." Unlike other professions, the lawyers have also neutered Bar officials from initiating their own investigations against unscrupulous lawyers. In the professions listed above, they authorities were all given the power to police their professions without waiting for a complaint from a consumer, unlike the bar. Hey, if no one complains, there is no problem, right?

The Chief Justice, President and Legal Counsel of the Bar, the media, and politicians have made it clear there is no true interest cleansing Mississippi of this incest. Governor Barbour should call a special session for the sole purpose of reforming the Mississippi Bar. The Bar frittered away countless chances to police itself. The legislature should take jurisdiction of regulating the legal profession away from the Supreme Court and give it to a state agency or change how the Bar's commissioners and officers are chosen. The best solution would be to revoke the power to elect commissioners and officers given to the lawyers and divide it among the Governor, Attorney General, and Chief Justice thus allowing for the structure of the Bar to remain intact. The Bar would resemble other professions in that the board members are not elected by the members they are supposed to regulate. It should be asked if there is going to be a board and executive director if the office of the President should even exist. The transformed Bar should be given the power to initiate its own investigations against lawyers. The responsibility for regulating and disciplining lawyers should be taken completely away from the lawyers as they have driven our legal system into the proverbial ditch while they whined and dined at Char.

There is no reason why the incest should be allowed to continue as Mississippi lawyers have enjoyed a position of privilege not available to other professions. The "noble" profession should be governed by the same principles as doctors, realtors, nurses, and others. Unfortunately, The Clarion-Ledger, The Jackson-Free Press, and the broadcast media are not interested in such reform as shown by their coverage and editorials. Meanwhile the elites buy each other drinks at Ticos while laughing at how gullible and lazy Mississippians are as they blame the bastardization of our legal system on a few bad apples when its the grove itself that is rotten.


Anonymous said...

Government corruption against the poor in Mississippi is at epidemic proportions, so those cases are left buried such as the totally counterfeit and fraudulent Mississippi Supreme Court case NO. 2000-KA-00777-SCT. The case is as bogus as a three dollar bill and was never meant to go anywhere other than back to Hinds County Mississippi where it was remanded to file leaving my wife, children and I in limbo.

Anonymous said...

You'll like this. A Republican member of the House has introduced a measure for the state to now exert control over interior designers, including disciplinary measures, but we'll be damned if the state will rein in the law profession.

wood said...

iwas convicted in the lincoln county the same time i should have gotten my appeal,i was severlly injured at the states fault.i tried to sue the state for causing the injury but how can you sue in a personal injury lawsuit without the needed medical record that was ordered for me in discovery. i want to sue for the wrongful conviction that kept me locked up for 10 years and 8 months that i did not recieve my entitled appeal to and i want to sue about messing up my personal injury lawsuitwhere i am blind and have tramatic brain injury fromthe state of mississippi's failure to follw state law. Thnaks

Anonymous said...

This goes along with expecting the average person to file an ethics complaint when they have no prior knowledge of such . I just filed a complaint against 3 attorneys with evidence of collusion and fraud upon the court and it was a daunting task that took over a month with zero assistance from the Mississippi Bar. You might as well send a copy of your complaint to the attorneys because that’s exactly what the Miss Bar will do . If you haven’t already fired your attorney they will withdraw from your case under the pretense that it’s in good faith and blame the client. I haven’t been able to find an attorney who will touch a malpractice case so I just wanted to say thank you

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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