We have already told you about how Steve Simpson admits that he is lazy in reading the fine print and doesn’t understand how mortgages work. He is an attorney, remember. We have already told you with an income of $138,000+ he still couldn’t pay his property taxes on time, but could afford a 42 foot boat.
Simpson has no real pension or trust experience, little complex litigation experience, and limited commercial experience. Most of his experience has been in criminal matters. (Ironic?)
So how did Simpson get the job? He was appointed in by an outsourced judge (called a special master.) Outsourced judges are brought in when matters are so complex that it would completely overwhelm one judge, or sometimes because the judge is extremely lazy. That Special Master was Britt Singletary. We’ll come back to Singletary in a minute. Continue reading
Apparently Steve Simpson has Seaquestered himself away from having to deal with the pension holders he chose to serve. SRHS Watch has received reports from retirees that Steve Simpson won’t return their calls. They have called on numerous occasions, never to have their calls returned. We do know of Simpson returning at least one employee’s call several weeks ago.
Maybe Simpson should send out a press release to the local media with the updated financials. Maybe he could sit down with WLOX and give an update on what is happening with the plan. Explain what the financials look like after the first quarter. Explain what the path forward is after the settlement.
We encourage you to try to get Simpson on the horn. You can call him at 228-265-6990. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
If he returns your call and gives you updated numbers on the pension, let us know.
Billy Guice thinks SRHS pension plan trustee Steve Simpson is not doing a good job. In a recent JCBOS meeting, Guice criticized Simpson’s handling of the plan’s funds and also with Simpson’s apparent lack of transparency.
Guice went on to say that Simpson would not have been his first choice for trustee. Simpson wasn’t the first choice for Judge Hilburn; he was the sixth. Guice said that he preferred a professional trustee with trust experience, something Simpson lacks. The bulk of Simpson’s legal experience has been in criminal matters.
Guice went on to say that his choice would have been The Peoples Bank in Biloxi. No doubt that Guice would be comfortable with Peoples, as he and his family have a long relationship with the bank. When you look specifically at the trust department you find:
That’s right, Billy Guice wanted to put his (ex)wife in charge of the pension trust. Ms. Guice, by all appearances, is everything you would want in a trust officer. The problem lies in that her (ex)husband is an attorney involved in ongoing litigation over that very trust.
One episode of nepotism was avoided in not selecting Peoples Bank. It was trumped by cronyism with the appointment of Simpson.
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
Editor’s note: We are not going to do any analysis or comment on the ex partay until all the kids hand in their homework. In the meantime, the infamous Nunn Yabidnez weighs in on the ex partay, centered around the rule that forbids anyone from “earwigging the Chancellor” or “putting a bug in his ear.” Special note for Scott Taylor and those in Rio Linda: this does not actually mean someone will place an insect in a chancellor’s external auditory meatus.
Hilburn, a STATE appointed special judge, Singletary, the Special Master Hilburn appointed in a STATE case and Simpson, the Special Fiduciary appointed in a STATE case had absolutely no plausible need or arguably valid reason to be at such a meeting, “secret” or otherwise. The attorneys for a few members of a putative class, the Defendants’ attorneys, and reps of some of the Defendants were by their own admissions discussing settlement in a FEDERAL lawsuit that involved the exact same set of facts as the parallel STATE case. Even if none of the attendees intended to “discuss” any state cases, the presence of Hilburn, Singletary and Simpson was at best unnecessary and every attorney there including the judges and attorney/trustee Taylor knew or should have known it was a highly improper clear violation of numerous rules.
With it being a Chancery Court matter at the state, they were operating under not only the Rules of Professional Conduct and/or Code of Judicial Conduct, but also the Uniform Chancery Court Rules. Rule 3.10 states in part:
“No person shall undertake to discuss with or in the presence or hearing of the Chancellor the law or the facts or alleged facts of any litigated action then pending in the Court or likely to be instituted therein, except in the orderly progress of the trial, and arguments or briefs connected therewith.” and “Any person who shall violate this rule, knowing that such conduct is prohibited, shall be guilty of a contempt.” If they did not know Rule 3.10, they are not competent lawyers and if they did, they are guilty violating the rules and guilty of a contempt. 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
Attorneys Harvey Barton and Earl Denham have filed a motion with the Mississippi Supreme Court asking for an emergency hearing on their cases in the Singing River pension matter.
Barton and Denham point to video of a secret meeting by the judges in the case and attorneys from SRHS and for other plaintiffs.
The motion alleges a secret meeting was held at Special Master Britt Singletary’s Biloxi office. The meeting concluded less than an hour before Judge Hilburn issued orders on several motions before canceling hearings scheduled the next day. Hilburn has put an indefinite pause in place on all of his cases related to SRHS. A motion asking Hilburn and Singletary to recuse was still pending when Hilburn ordered the pause.
Attendees of the Tuesday, January 12, 2015 meeting are alleged to include:
- Judge Breland Hilburn
- Special Master Britt Singletary
- Special Fiduciary Steve Simpson
- Brett Williams, attorney for SRHS
- Kelly Sessoms, attorney for SRHS
- Scott Taylor, SRHS trustee and also a licensed attorney
- Billy Guice, special counsel for the Jackson County Board of Supervisors
- Jim Reeves, attorney for one group of plaintiffs
- Matt Mestayer, partner with Jim Reeves, attorney for plaintiffs
Reeves, Guice, and attorneys for SRHS have recently signed a settlement agreement which seeks to stop all litigation against Singing River.
Barton and Denham’s motion asks the court to:
- Allow the cases to continue
- Remove Judge Breland Hilburn from overseeing the cases
- Remove Britt Singletary as special master in the cases
- Remove Steve Simpson as special fiduciary
- Remove Dogan & Wilkinson, Brett Williams and Kelly Sessoms from representing SRHS
- Remove Jim Reeves and Matt Mestayer from representing anyone in connection to the case
- Remove Scott Taylor from his position as a trustee of SRHS
- Appoint a new judge to oversee the cases
SRHS Watch will update this story as more information comes available.
Read the 57 page motion here.
Do not just read headlines, read the details.
The devil lies in the details.
nothing is set in stone. yet.
THERE IS NO MONEY AVAILABLE NOW, AND NO GUARANTEE THERE WILL BE.
Some of the legalese and concepts may be difficult to follow and understand. Please consult with someone you trust and is knowledgeable on these matters.
The proposed settlement by Singing River Health System is just that PROPOSED. Several media outlets and attorneys are portraying the settlement as a “done deal.” It is not. There is simply an agreement between some players, who are asking the District Judge Louis Guirola to approve and order EVERYONE to comply with.
What is true: Jim Reeves, who represents one group of plaintiffs, has signed a settlement agreement with attorneys for SRHS, its trustees, Mike Crews, Chris Anderson, and Stephanie Barnes Taylor. Billy Guice has also signed the agreement on behalf of Jackson County. Jackson County was never sued by Reeves. Special Fiduciary Steve Simpson is expected to sign once he receives approval in Jackson County Chancery Court.
What is contained in the settlement?
SRHS is agreeing to pay $149 million over the next 35 years. This is simply a payment plan. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF PAYMENT.
The settlement also provides that anyone who participates will forever give up any claim they might have against any SRHS entity or employee, its trustees, Chris Anderson, Mike Crews, Stephanie Barnes Taylor, and Jackson County. Remember, Jackson County was never named in this suit. Continue reading