FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Governor Barbour Expands Special Session Call To Include Legislature Review of Private Attorney Fees

(Jackson, Miss.) — Governor Haley Barbour announced today an expansion of his Special Session call to include the Open Lawyer Fees Act, which would require legislative review when a compensation contract exceeding $1 million is entered into between the state and a private attorney. Similar legislation is in effect in other states, including Kansas, Texas, Colorado and Virginia.

“Numerous House and Senate members have urged me to address this issue during the Special Session because of the recent controversy and public outcry surrounding the huge attorneys’ fees awarded as a result of the MCI settlement,” said Governor Barbour. “Mississippi taxpayers deserve to know, beforehand, how much private attorneys will be paid when they are representing the state in these large cases.” As part of the recent MCI settlement, the private attorneys received $14 million in legal fees as a result of private fee negotiations.

If the Legislature passes the Open Lawyer Fees Act during the Special Session, it will require that the Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate hold public hearings regarding any proposed contract with private attorneys that may exceed $1 million. This would allow taxpayers to know how much their attorneys are being paid in advance. “It’s time to shed some light on these attorneys’ fees being paid by Mississippi taxpayers,” Governor Barbour added.

 


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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741