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May 22, 2012

Mississippi Governor Signs Landmark Outside Counsel Sunshine Law

Today Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed legislation promoting transparency and capping contingency fees when the state attorney general, a state agency, or elected officials hire outside private plaintiff attorneys to represent the state.

Through its ‘sunshine’ law, Mississippi took a significant step to rein in the troublesome practice of awarding contingency fee contracts to plaintiffs’ lawyers who are also major campaign contributors to the state attorney general.

Such ‘pay-to-play’ schemes enrich lawyers at the expense of taxpayers and raise significant concerns about conflicts of interest, favoritism, the use of a public entity for personal gain, and fairness in prosecutions.

With this new law, Mississippi joins a vanguard of states like Arizona, Florida and Indiana who have led the effort to open the relationships between state attorneys general and private lawyers hired to work with them to public scrutiny. Governor Phil Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, Speaker Philip Gunn, Senator Briggs Hopson, and Representative Mark Baker are to be commended for their leadership.

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