|39th Attorney General of Mississippi|
January 13, 2004 – January 14, 2020
|Preceded by||Mike Moore|
|Succeeded by||Lynn Fitch|
James Matthew Hood
May 15, 1962
New Houlka, Mississippi, U.S.
|Education||University of Mississippi (BA, JD)|
James Matthew Hood (born May 15, 1962) is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 39th Attorney General of Mississippi from 2004 to 2020.
A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected in 2003, defeating Republican Scott Newton. A former district attorney, Hood succeeded fellow Democrat Mike Moore. He was the only Democrat holding statewide elected office in Mississippi from 2008 to 2020. He announced on October 3, 2018 that he would run for Governor of Mississippi in 2019; he easily won the Democratic primary on August 6, 2019. He lost the general election to Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves on November 5, 2019, which was his first statewide loss.
Early life and education
In 2004, Hood prosecuted Jeremy Martin, a teacher from Tupelo, Mississippi and unsuccessful Republican candidate for the Mississippi House of Representatives, who was accused of a misdemeanor campaign finance violation. John Helmert, Hood's opposing counsel, called the prosecution of Martin a "political witch hunt". According to the Sun Herald, "it is rare for the state's attorney general to prosecute alleged campaign finance violations." The case was dismissed after the defendant paid a $300 fine.
Hood has been active in the legal aspects of the recovery of Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after Katrina, Hood partnered with Mississippi plaintiff attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, a brother-in-law of former U.S. Senator Trent Lott, in filing suit against numerous high-profile insurance companies. Hood's leadership has been praised by some as allowing homeowners a better opportunity for recovery than they experienced in neighboring Louisiana, but Scruggs and Hood have also been criticized for over-zealously prosecuting insurance companies and because Scruggs helped convey confidential documents, which Hood used in a criminal probe, supposedly to pressure State Farm Insurance into settlement. Hood was reelected on November 6, 2007 and again for a third term on November 8, 2011. On November 3, 2015 Hood was reelected for his fourth term.
In 2008, Judge William Acker criticized Hood in a judicial opinion for his role in helping Scruggs commit civil contempt. Scruggs was later convicted in federal court of crimes committed during the post-Katrina litigation. The saga is recounted in the 2009 book, Kings of Tort.
As a prosecutor, Hood has tried more than 100 jury cases while serving as an assistant attorney general and as a district attorney (D.A.). He has successfully prosecuted several historic cases, including winning the conviction of Killen. As D.A., he successfully prosecuted death penalty cases, including one in which he originally won a conviction, and later, as Attorney General (A.G.), argued and won an appeal of the case before the United States Supreme Court. As A.G., Hood established a vulnerable adults unit, a domestic violence unit, an identity theft unit, and a crime prevention and victims services division. He has launched initiatives to prevent workplace and school violence, and stalking and domestic assault. Hood has developed and distributed numerous publications to assist and educate both consumers and other public service entities in areas such as cyber crime, consumer protection, domestic violence, victims' assistance, election, and government law.
Hood has been criticized for his support for the controversial bite mark technique and more generally for his opposition to reform of the Mississippi death investigation system and critical evaluation of questionable forensic techniques.
On his last day as governor in 2012, Haley Barbour granted 208 pardons, clemency or early release for people convicted of crimes including murder, rape and armed robbery. Barbour's actions included 19 people convicted of murder. Pardons by governors are not uncommon; the issue in this case is the number of pardons compared to former governors. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, whom Barbour succeeded as governor, issued only one pardon, for a man convicted of marijuana possession; Gov. Kirk Fordice, who preceded Musgrove, issued two full pardons for convicted murderers. In his role as Attorney General, Hood argued Section 124 of the Mississippi Constitution says any inmate seeking a pardon must publish their intentions 30 days in a newspaper in or near the county where the person was convicted and on January 11, a Mississippi judge temporarily blocked the release of the 21 inmates who had been given pardons or medical release.
2017 Hurricane Katrina insurance lawsuits
In May 2017, twelve years after Hurricane Katrina, Hood filed lawsuits against Liberty Mutual Insurance and Safeco Insurance claiming that the companies failed to make adequate payments for the victims of Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina occurred in August 2005 and caused $125 billion in property damage within Mississippi.
The lawsuits claim that the insurance companies "undervalued claims for Katrina winded damages to minimize payments and to foist the financial burden onto the state when adjusting homeowners' insurance claims in the wake of the hurricane." Part of the complaint read, "Liberty Mutual essentially converted a program designed to help Mississippians recovering from Katrina into a subsidy for itself."
In 2017, Hood filed lawsuits against a number of pharmaceutical companies. In the lawsuits, Hood alleged that the companies were engaging in an unlawful scheme to "force the state to pay for drugs that were not eligible for Medicaid reimbursement." Overall, Hood filed six separate lawsuits against the 18 defendant companies.
Among other things, the lawsuits claimed that the companies made the state of Mississippi pay for drugs that had not received approval by the FDA. According to Legal NewsLine, "Hood contends the companies' scheme involves false representations, made by the defendants to the state, that their National Drug Codes, or NDCs, are FDA approved and eligible for Medicaid reimbursement."
Hood said that the allegedly fraudulent marketing of drugs by the defendant companies resulted in an increased market share and profits for the companies while "essentially leaving the state in a lurch."
Department of Corrections corruption
On February 8, 2017, Hood announced he had filed civil cases against numerous corporations and individuals who had allegedly engaged in corrupt contracts with the Mississippi Department of Corrections and its former Commissioner Chris Epps, seeking damages and punitive damages. He stated, "The state of Mississippi has been defrauded through a pattern of bribery, kickbacks, misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct." He continued, "These individuals and corporations that benefited by stealing from taxpayers must not only pay the state's losses, but state law requires that they must also forfeit and return the entire amount of the contracts paid by the state. We are also seeking punitive damages to punish these conspirators and to deter those who might consider giving or receiving kickbacks in the future." Besides Teresa Malone and Carl Reddix, who had been indicted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, the civil case defendants included previously uncharged Michael Reddix; Utah's Management & Training Corporation; Florida's GEO Group, Inc.; Cornell Companies, Inc.; Wexford Health Sources, Inc.; Drug Testing Corporation; Global Tel*Link Corporation and Sentinel Offender Services, L.L.C. and others. As he left office, Hood published a list of enumerated recoveries of $26,612,188.22 from complicit corporations. The settlement amounts paid by these government contractors and the nature of services they provided were as follows: (1) Management & Training Corporation $5.18 million For-profit operator of correctional facilities (2) Cornell Companies, Inc. (GEO Group) $4.55 million For-profit operator of correctional facilities (3) Wexford Health Sources, Inc. $4.00 million Correctional health care provider (4) Keefe Commissary Network, LLC $3.10 million Commissary management services (5) C. N. W. Construction Company $3.10 million Construction (6) Global Tel*Link Corporation $2.50 million Inmate telephone communications (7) Branan Medical Corporation $2.00 million “Drugs-of-abuse” testing products (8) Sentinel Offender Services, LLC $1.30 million Offender tracking and monitoring provider (9) CGL Facility Management, LLC $750,000.00 Correctional maintenance services (10) AdminPros, LLC $32,188.22 Medicaid eligibility services (11) Guy E. “Butch” Evans $100,000.00 Insurance (12) Health Assurance, LLC ($0 due to bankruptcy) Correctional health care provider.
Working with the National Association of Attorneys General and Entertainment lobby groups, Hood has been pushing Google since 2013 to prevent use of the company's search engine to find drugs that require a prescription and copyright infringing content. In December 2014, Google sued Hood in federal court, seeking to block a 79-page subpoena from the Attorney General for violating First and Fourth Amendments rights. The Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss Google's motion on January 12, 2015. Both parties later agreed to freeze their motions and not enforce the subpoena until March 6, 2015. A U.S. District Judge granted Google's request for a preliminary injunction on March 2, 2015 putting on hold the pending subpoena and ordering Attorney General Hood to hand over information requested by Google. An appeals court has overturned the preliminary injunction on procedural grounds and allowed the subpoena, though it also criticized the broad nature Hood's original subpoena and the lack of any specific associated investigation. In July 2016, Google and Hood agreed to dismiss their respective lawsuits and subpoenas. The Attorney General and Google agreed to "endeavor to collaborate in addressing the harmful consequences of unlawful and/or dangerous online content".
On December 19, 2014, as a result of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack, emails were released that showed that Hood was co-opted by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to blame Google for acts of copyright infringement committed by numerous, multiple unrelated third parties via the trade organisations the Digital Citizens Alliance and FairSearch. The released emails also showed that threatening communications from Hood's office to Google were written by MPAA counsel.
2019 gubernatorial campaign
Hood announced that he would be a candidate for Governor of Mississippi in 2019 on October 3, 2018. According to the Jackson Free Press, Hood, "known for his conservative positions on criminal justice... laid out a progressive policy agenda on taxes, health care, education and infrastructure" when he announced his candidacy. Hood campaigned as a moderate Democrat according to an NPR reporter. Mississippi's The Clarion Ledger reported that "Hood portrays himself" as a moderate.
In announcing his candidacy, Hood called for Medicaid expansion, tuition-free community college, universal pre-school, and criticized corporate tax cuts implemented by Mississippi's Republican-controlled legislature. According to Hood, the decision by Republicans not to accept Medicaid expansion had contributed to the closure of rural hospitals in Mississippi. He has also campaigned based on what he describes as his pro-life views and has highlighted his gun ownership. Explaining his pro-life position, he referred to his work defending Mississippi's ban, known as a "heartbeat" bill, on abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy.
Hood won the Democratic primary with 68.78% of the vote. He lost the general election to Republican nominee Tate Reeves, the incumbent Lieutenant Governor. Reeves defeated Hood in the general election by a margin of 5.1%, making it the nearest a Democrat had come to winning a Mississippi gubernatorial election since 1999. Hood had managed the strongest performance by a Democrat since the 2003 Mississippi gubernatorial election, when then-incumbent Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove took 45.81% of the vote as he sought reelection.
|Mississippi Attorney General Election, 2003|
|Mississippi Attorney General Election, 2007|
|Democratic||Jim Hood (inc.)||440,017||59.82%|
|Mississippi Attorney General Election, 2011|
|Democratic||Jim Hood (inc.)||536,827||61.08%|
|Mississippi Attorney General Election, 2015|
|Democratic||Jim Hood (inc.)||395,969||55.29%|
- "Houston, we have a problem – taxpayers spending over $100,000 for hometown office perk for AG Jim Hood". Y'all Politics. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- "Teacher pleads innocent to violating campaign finance law". July 13, 2004. Archived from the original on April 17, 2005. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
- MS v. Martin, 550, 276 (MS Cir. 2005) ("...cause is hereby Remanded to the File.").
- Rebecca Mowbray and Mary Judice (January 30, 2007). "Lawsuit in Miss. stands in contrast to La.; Neighboring state goes after insurers". Times-Picayune (New Orleans).
- "Mississippi Justice". Wall Street Journal. March 15, 2007.
- Associated Press (June 6, 2008). "Judge: Miss. attorney general conspired with Scruggs". USA Today. Retrieved March 7, 2009.
- Mohr, Holbrook (June 27, 2008). "Scruggs gets 5 years in prison in bribery scheme". USA Today. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
- Lange, Alan; et al. (2009). Kings of Tort. Pediment Publishing. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-59725-244-7.
- "About Jim Hood". jimhood.org. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2016/08/25/mississippi-attorney-general-jim-hood-defends-discredited-forensic-experts-harasses-defense-attorneys-instead/ Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood defends discredited forensic experts, harasses defense attorneys instead
- https://www.huffpost.com/entry/steven-hayne-michael-west-forensic-scandal_b_940767 Steven Hayne, Michael West ‘Expert’ Witness Scandal Could Affect Mississippi Attorney General Race
- https://csidds.com/2016/05/18/advances-of-science-affects-some-convictions-so-far-bitemarks-arent-included/ Advances of science affects some convictions – so far bitemarks aren’t included
- https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2008/02/mississippi-s-criminal-forensics-disaster.html The Bite-Marks Men Mississippi’s criminal forensics disaster.
- Ward, Robbie (January 10, 2012). "Mississippi's Barbour surprises with raft of pardons". Reuters.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Mississippi judge blocks release of 21 inmates given pardons by Governor Barbour". Fox News. Associated Press. January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2012.
- Sammon, John (May 26, 2017). "Mississippi attorney general alleges insurance companies cost state millions for Katrina payments". Legal NewsLine. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- Karmasek, Jessica (May 2, 2017). "Miss. AG, with the help of outside attorneys, sues pharma companies over allegedly unapproved drugs". Legal NewsLine. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- Mississippi AG files lawsuits in Epps bribery case, The Clarion-Ledger, Jimmie E. Gates, February 8, 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- HOOD RECOVERS $26.6 MILLION, SETTLES FINAL EPPS BRIBERY CASE, Mississippi Attorney General, January 24, 2019. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
- "Letter to Google From Mississippi's Attorney General". The New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
- "Google files lawsuit against Mississippi attorney general to block subpoena". CNET.
- "Miss. attorney general asks court to dismiss Google's suit". Washington Times.
- "GOOGLE SLAMS MPAA CENSORSHIP EFFORTS AFTER COURT 'VICTORY'". Torrent Freak.
- "Court: Google Can See Emails About MPAA's Secret 'SOPA Revival'". torrentfreak.com. April 21, 2015.
- "Appeals court: Google will have to deal with Mississippi AG investigation". Ars Technica. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
- Mullin, Joe (July 14, 2016). "Google ends spat with Mississippi AG over his MPAA-tinged investigation". Ars Technica. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
- "Sued by Google, a state attorney general retreats". New York Times. December 19, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- WINGFIELD, NICK (December 16, 2014). "Google's Detractors Take Their Fight to the States". Retrieved January 1, 2015.
- "Google sues Mississippi Attorney General 'for doing MPAA's dirty work'". The Register. December 20, 2014. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- "MPAA Emails Expose Dirty Media Attack Against Google - TorrentFreak". Retrieved July 28, 2015.
- "New Court Evidence Reveals Hollywood's Plan to Smear Google". Retrieved July 28, 2015.
- "New MPAA e-mail showcases anti-Google attack plan". Retrieved July 28, 2015.
- Pittman, Ashton. "Hood Announces Run: 'Jesus Taught Us to Fight for the Poor'". jacksonfreepress.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
- "Mississippi Governor Election Preview". NPR.org. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
- Ramseth, Luke. "Mississippi election 2019: Where governor candidate Jim Hood stands on key issues". The Clarion Ledger. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
- Pettus, Emily Wagster (October 4, 2018). "Dem running for Mississippi governor: Help 'least among us'". AP NEWS. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
- "Where do Mississippi politicians stand on Medicaid expansion?". The Clarion Ledger. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
- "Republican Remains Favored in 'Surprisingly Competitive' Mississippi Governor's Race". National Review. October 23, 2019. Retrieved November 2, 2019.
- Ganucheau, Adam; May 22, Mississippi Today; 2019 (May 22, 2019). "Jim Hood, a self-styled pro-life Democrat, draws rebuke from the right and the left on abortion". Mississippi Today. Retrieved November 2, 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- Election results for 2019 Mississippi primary races, Clarion Ledger, August 6, 2019. Retrieved August 8, 2019.
- "Mississippi General Election Results 2019". ClarionLedger.com. November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
| Attorney General of Mississippi
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Mississippi