With all of the responses in to the Mississippi Supreme Court, it’s time to start sorting out what exactly happened. The responses are lacking, but we endeavor to distill truth and fact from what has been presented to the Court. They have a tremendous undertaking before them.
We first wish to understand the sequence of events at the meeting. There are two different versions of this. Judge Hilburn’s story follows the pattern A – B – C while almost everyone else follows the pattern A – C – B. The below statements are verbatim excerpts from each response; we have only removed sentences or phrases that were not pertinent to the sequence of events.
- A – I immediately told them there would be no discussion of any state court matters.
- B – I inquired as to the status of the federal court litigation;
- C – I told those present they would not need to appear at the Jackson County Courthouse the next day, that I had prepared an email temporarily staying the state court litigation and canceling the hearing scheduled at 9:00 the next day.
Sessoms & Williams:
- A – Judge Hilburn subsequently arrived, and again it was mentioned that there would be no discussion about the Chancery Court cases.
- B – Plaintiffs’ Counsel, Jim Reeves, who represents clients in the Jones litigation, but not in the Almond litigation […] discussed the Jones Federal Court litigation.
- C -Judge Hilburn announced he was staying all proceedings pending the Federal Court litigation. He also said that he was cancelling the hearing set for 9:00 AM the next day.
Incredibly, Sessoms & Williams response differs from their earlier response to the Court on behalf of SRHS. In that version, Judge Hilburn announced the stay at the beginning of the meeting and not at the end. It appears Sessoms & Williams sequence of events changed after having the benefit of Judge Hilburn’s statement. See below. Continue reading
Reading the response of Special Fiduciary Steve Simpson opens more holes and questions:
- Why does Simpson not mention the orders he asked Judge Hilburn to sign?
- How does a judge hear an oral motion when there is no hearing?
- How did Simpson know to have Hilburn sign the motions at that meeting?
- Were there earlier, deliberative communications amongst the parties?
No Mention of Signed Orders
Though former Circuit Judge Stephen Simpson spends hundreds of words to explain his actions and impugn other attorneys, he makes one glaring omission: he doesn’t bother to inform the Supreme Court that Judge Hilburn signed four (4) separate orders at Simpson’s request. Simpson says that Denham and Barton’s “six cases were not the subject of that meeting.”
Simpson states to the Court that this was a “settlement conference” that had nothing to do with Almond or any other Denham and Barton case. Despite his assertion, Simpson asked Judge Hilburn to issue an order authorizing him to enter into a settlement. Judge Hilburn makes mention of this in his response: Continue reading
In reading the responses to the Miss. Supreme Court, the phrase “missing the forest for the trees” springs to mind. It seems that all parties involved have become so focused on the competing federal and chancery cases, they forget the underlying and undeniable facts. Subsequent to the ex parte hearing, six separate orders were entered in the Almond and Lay cases. These are orders that were a result of action taken at the January 12 meeting.
- Order Granting Motion to Intervene by Special Fiduciary
- Order Authorizing Special Fiduciary Trustee to Enter into Settlement and Release
- Order Authorizing Payment of Special Fiduciary Fees
- Order Approving Invoice for Payment by Parties
- Order Approving Fees and Expenses of Charles J. Mikhail
- E-mail order staying all cases and cancelling hearings
These are facts that are not in dispute. Some lawyers are now making claims which fly in the face of facts and the record of the court. Continue reading
The Mississippi Supreme Court today ordered Judge Breland Hilburn to explain his reasoning for entering a stay in the Almond case. Judge Hilburn has until noon Wednesday to file his response.
Filing responses today were former SRHS Trustee Scott Taylor, SRHS attorneys Kelly Sessoms and Brett Williams, and Jackson County attorney Billy Guice.
The responses of Special Master Britt Singletary, Special Fiduciary Steve Simpson, along with plaintiffs’ attorneys Jim Reeves and Matt Mestayer are due tomorrow.
Order to Judge Hilburn
Response of Billy Guice
Response of Sessoms & Williams
Response of Scott Taylor