Firing the only punishment from AG Hood for Langston

John O'Brien Jan. 14, 2008, 5:30pm




JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said Monday that he is disappointed in one of his largest campaign contributors, an attorney hired twice by him to represent the State of Mississippi in court, though he won't prosecute him.

Hood said Joey Langston of The Langston Law Firm has been taken off the State's case against Eli Lilly, the maker of the anti-psychotic prescription drug Zyprexa. Langston pleaded guilty last week to attempting to bribe a state judge presiding over an attorneys fees dispute involving also-indicted trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs.

Hood said it will be up to the proper District Attorneys to prosecute Langston on the state level.

"Since the matter is being handled by the federal government, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further until all the facts are known," Hood said.

"Due to Mr. Langston's past representation of this office, it could create an appearance of impropriety for our office to participate in a potential state prosecution of this case. It will be up to the appropriate District Attorney(s) to handle any potential state case(s). The resources of my office will be available to them."

Hood has apparently not begun an investigation into federal charges that Scruggs, also a campaign contributor to Hood, attempted to bribe two judges in attorneys fees disputes.

Langston represented Scruggs in one of them, leading to last week's indictment that became public Monday.

Bailey Perrin Bailey of Houston is also representing the State in the case against Eli Lilly. It has been hired by other attorneys general as well to pursue cases against the company.

Timothy Balducci, Langston's former co-worker, has also pleaded guilty to similar charges. Balducci used to work on the case with Langston.

"We have only one case being worked by The Langston Law Firm," Hood said. "He has been removed from any further representation of the state in that case."

Langston previously worked on the State's case against MCI. His work resulted in a $100 million settlement for the State and $14 million in attorneys fees that his firm split with another firm.

Currently, he's locked in a court battle with former state Auditor Phil Bryant, who feels all of the funds from the settlement should have gone to the state Legislature. Langston said Bryant's motives were politically motivated, as the filing of the case corresponded with Bryant's successful run at Lieutenant Governor.

"His plea of guilty will have no legal impact on the MCI case," Hood said. "It was handled in accordance with the law and was enormously successful for the state."

Hood drew criticism for hiring Langston, who, according to figures put together by Hood's competition in the last general election, has donated $112,214.59 to Hood's two campaigns.

"It is indeed a sad day for our profession," Hood said. "The vast majority of lawyers, prosecutors and judges work hard every day to improve their communities and help people. I only hope that these serious allegations can be resolved quickly, so that we can move forward to repair the damage to our reputation as a legal community."

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State of Mississippi
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Jackson, MS 39201

Mississippi Attorney General
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Jackson, MS 39201

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