Gov. Barbour furious with Hood, removes him from gaming case
JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour wants state Attorney General Jim Hood to explain how disclosing legal advice regarding Indian gaming doesn't violate ethics rules.
Barbour wrote a forceful letter to Hood Monday, complaining that Hood sent a legal memo requested by Barbour to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, which plans to open a casino in Jones County. The Neshoba Democrat also ran a story about the memo.
Barbour wrote that he expects Hood's work product to be kept confidential because Hood is his lawyer.
"(I)nstead, without my prior kowledge and approval, your advice was sent directly to our anticipated litigation adversary on the same day I received your memo," Barbour wrote.
"I am not aware of an applicable exception to the Rules of Professional Conduct allowing an attorney to divulge privileged and confidential information of the client without a waiver. As you know, it is my privilege to waive, and I have not waived it."
Barbour demanded to know how the breach of confidentiality occurred and how publicizing Hood's legal advice will not "be used to the State's disadvantage in this case so that I can determine what action I need to take."
Barbour says the MCBI is quickly constructing the casino but has not filed notice with the Indian Gaming Commission and has not determine the projects impact on public health and safety and the environment, the Neshoba Democrat article says.
Hood met with Barbour July 1 to discuss legal strategies. Barbour says he will hire another lawyer to bring a lawsuit against the casino.
"You have chosen to side with the spread of gaming that is contrary to state policy by supporting a slot parlor offering no amenities other than a snack bar that will provide scant benefit to the local community or to the State," Hood wrote to the Barbour.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.