Mississippi Judge with Big WorldCom and Repubilican Ties Seemed to be "Asleep at the Switch"
July 22, 2002 9:33 PM   Subscribe

Mississippi Judge with Big WorldCom and Repubilican Ties Seemed to be "Asleep at the Switch" "Judge Barbour was an ideal adjudicator for the home team. A resident of nearby Yazoo City, Miss., Barbour and his family reside in a state where WorldCom was the biggest source of local pride and a major supplier of high-paying jobs. Mississippi is undergoing a highly charged tort reform battle, with Republicans squarely on the side of curtailing shareholder lawsuits. A Reagan appointee to the bench in 1983, Barbour is a first cousin and former law partner of Haley Barbour, former Republican National Committee chairman and now a high-powered Washington lobbyist mulling a run for Mississippi governor. " In a case filled by shareholders in March of this year Judge Barbour dismissed it and said "The numbers are so large, the stakes were so high, and the fall of the dollar value of WorldCom stock so precipitous, that the reader reacts by thinking that there must have been some corporate misbehavior.... However, after a thorough examination, it becomes apparent that the Complaint is a classic example of 'puzzle pleading,'" or using an onrush of "cross-references and repetition" in lieu of real substance. Forbes link. usr name=metafilter passwrd=metafilter
posted by bas67 (9 comments total)
Thanks. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce took out ads against Mississippi a month or so ago in newspapers throughout the country, calling it the worst place in America to do business and saying that a survey it conducted showed that execs ruled its judges the most corrupt, etc.

Sort of seemed like a blackmail-type thing to me, the ad campaign did. A, "We want tort reform done our way or we'll torture you," sort of deal. But, y'know, maybe Mississippi wasn't such a great place to do business, after all, given that WorldCom went bankrupt, and maybe its judges are more corrupt than the norm, given this Barbour evidence. Or . . . or . . . something. Wait. My head is swimming here.
posted by raysmj at 10:20 PM on July 22, 2002

Mississippi: making Alabama look comparatively good since 1817.

Hard to believe it's more corrupt than Louisiana, though.

Gotta watch out for that cross-referencing and repetition in legal documents. Getcha every time.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:59 PM on July 22, 2002

BitterOldPunk: One correction on that one, which is a correction of myself too. Barbour wasn't a Mississippi state judge. He's a federal judge.
posted by raysmj at 11:20 PM on July 22, 2002

Repubilican is either a small typo or a brand new word.

posted by Baud at 3:00 AM on July 23, 2002

Oddly enough, I think Mississippi has a reputation for being too friendly (for some) to shareholder lawsuits, not the reverse. There's quite a bit of jockeying to get cases heard where you want them - for instance the Galveston court is popular (or unpopular) with the oddest people (see the urls below from The Smoking Gun - I couldn't figure out how to do the sexy yellow link thing).

The people who should really be keelhauled here are the board of directors. What on earth where they thinking?

posted by fluffy1984 at 4:58 AM on July 23, 2002

Brand new word Baud. I prefer Publican myself. Much more descriptive of the party. Here's a Godwin proof quote that seems appropriate to this story:

"Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

Gotta love that party of corporatism!! Greed is good!! Government is the problem, corporatism is the answer!!
posted by nofundy at 5:06 AM on July 23, 2002

time to pull their repubilical cord and abort them! /tv funhouse :)
posted by kliuless at 5:49 AM on July 23, 2002

Maybe Judge Barbour is corrupt, but striking shareholder suits won't prove it. Shareholder suits are essentially always meritless attempts by attorneys to blackmail companies into paying settlements. There is NO benefit to the shareholders and NO benefit to the company. It is clear that corporate governance reforms are needed -- but derivative lawsuits are no more the answer now than they ever were.
posted by MattD at 8:22 AM on July 23, 2002

Just because WordCom did bad things - something most of us agree on - does not meant that the shareholder suit was valid or that the plaintiffs' attorney was competent. The law is shot through with examples of claimants who had valid claims but lost because they didn't plead them properly.l
posted by mikewas at 12:03 PM on July 24, 2002

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