Posts Tagged ‘Flip Phillips’

Judicial Finance Reports - Trial lawyers, Republicans, big money, the usual suspects

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Here are some various observations on the pre-election campaign finance reports filed by candidates yesterday for Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

The two incumbents in the races have raised the most: Bill Waller ($470K) and Mike Randolph ($429K). But Flip Phillips has raised the most of a non-incumbent ($415K). Here is a chart with the numbers from this filing period as well as total year-to-date.

Central District

Bill Waller - Waller isn’t campaigning blind. His report notes $15,537 paid to the Tarrance Group for polling.

Some contributions of note to Waller include: Mississippi Federation of Republican Women ($500), 2003 GOP nominee for Attorney General Scott Newton ($500), Northern District MDOT Commissioner Mike Tagert ($500), Jim Barksdale ($500), Palazzo for Congress ($1000), Bomgar CEO Joel Bomgar ($1000), former Appeals Court Judge and MSGOP Chairman Jim Herring ($250), Koch Industries of Kansas ($1000), Mississippi Association of Educators PAC ($5000)

Earle Banks - Banks has spent $36,200 on media, $2500 on signs and $14,000 to Zata3 which does polling and robo-calls. He also advertised in the Rankin County News - a Republican and likely Waller area of strength.

Some contributions of note to Banks include: former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Chuck McRae ($1000); Democratic Senator John Horhn ($500); Democratic Senator Bennie Turner ($350); Democratic Representative Bryant Clark ($2500), former Democratic Secretary of State Dick Molpus ($500); Shane Langston ($5000); and each in for $2500 McCraney, Montagnet & Quinn; Hawkin/Gibson; Porter & Malouf; the Diaz Law Firm; Merrida Coxwell; Rebecca Langston; Casey Langston Lott.

According to the report, Porter & Malouf gave $2500 on October 9 and another $5000 on October 29 which would clearly break the campaign contribution limits. To be fair, sometimes that happens in a campaign and typically the campaign will return the amount above the limit (which is what I assume they did with a $2500 disbursement to Shane Langston) - or - the contribution should have been listed as coming from an attorney at Porter & Malouf instead of the firm.

Northern District

Flip Phillips - Phillips has placed $307K on television and billboards and has paid $11,500 to Public Opinion Strategies for polling.

Some contributors of note to Phillips include: former Democratic Congressman Travis Childers ($500); author and former Democratic Representative John Grisham ($5000); former chief-of-staff to Governor Ronnie Musgrove David Cole ($500); the firm of Democratic State Representative David Baria, Baria-Williamson PLLC ($500); Democratic state Senator Bennie Turner ($500); the Kitchens Law Firm ($1000) made up of three sons of current Supreme Court Justice Jim Kitchens; Tracie Langston ($5000); the Liston family: Brenda Liston (Homemaker - $5000), William Liston III (Lawyer - $5000), Jeanne Liston (Homemaker - $5000), William Liston (Lawyer - $5000); Ashley Ogden ($5000); Christie Ogden ($5000); and many of the names you see above on the report from Earle Banks: Timothy Porter of Porter & Malouf ($2500), Patrick Malouf of Porter & Malouf ($2500), Casey Langston Lott ($5000), Hawkins/Gibson ($2500), Merrida Coxwell ($2500), the Diaz Law Firm ($2500), Shane Langston $2500. Phillips also posted $5750 in 48-hour-reports.

Josiah Coleman - Coleman has placed $110K on paid media. Some contributors of note to Coleman include: Mississippi Association of Educators PAC ($1000); former MSGOP Chairman Clark Reed ($500); Palazzo for Congress ($1000); Haley’s PAC ($1000); Koch Industries of Kansas ($1000); MS Federation of Republican Women ($500); Retzer Resources - former MSGOP Chairman & Ambassador to Tanzania Mike Retzer ($1000); Kelly Segars ($1000). Former Governor Haley Barbour is a big get for Josiah. A more interesting story from this report is the contribution from Segars, an Iuka physician who formerly served on Phillips Campaign Finance Committee and now has apparently retracted from that position to back Phillips’ opponent.

Southern District

Mike Randolph - Randolph spent $184K on media advertising and $16K on yard signs. A few noteworthy contributions include: Mississippi Federation of Repubican Women ($500); 2007 GOP nominee for Attorney General Al Hopkins ($250); Palazzo for Congress ($1000); Friends of Billy Hewes ($500); Koch Industries of Kansas ($1000).

Tal Braddock - Braddock received a $2000 loan from Strategic Financial Resources, LLC / Joseph Leland Speed.

Court of Appeals

EJ Russell - Russell spent $400 on radio advertising with WMPR and $800 on signs. She received $500 from MS Federation of Republican Women.

Ceola James - James…is still in the race.

A Final Thought

Trial lawyers are providing the bulk of contributions to Flip Phillips and Earle Banks with many of the same names on both reports, but the campaigns have mirror messages. Flip says his opponent lacks legal experience; meanwhile how many cases has Earle Banks been on as the attorney of record? Earle complains about the large amount of campaign funds his opponent has raised; meanwhile Flip is out-raising everyone but the incumbents. So if the issue isn’t experience and the issue isn’t “big money” then what could be motivating the supporters of Phillips and Banks?

The motivation is what it has long been in supreme court races in Mississippi. Banks opposed tort reform in the legislature. Phillips has argued that damage caps in tort reform are unconstitutional. The issue of the constitutionality of most of Mississippi’s tort reform has yet to have been addressed by the Mississippi Supreme Court. This race, despite the smoke and mirror attacks against Waller and Coleman, is really about the future of Mississippi’s business climate and lawsuits.

Phillips flips - promises positive goes negative?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Monday, Northern District Supreme Court candidate Flip Phillips told the Clarion Ledger Editorial Board that he is ‘running positive ads. Telling people to ask someone who knows me about who I am.’

Now, according to his opponent’s campaign, Phillips has flipped and he is running negative ads. Here is an excerpt from today’s press release by Josiah Coleman for Supreme Court:

Flip Phillips, Josiah Coleman’s opponent for the Mississippi Supreme Court, recently began an attack ad against Coleman, backtracking on public promises not to air negative ads. The ad states that Coleman has tried “not one” case, when Coleman has in fact tried cases at the trial level and taken a lead role in numerous appellate cases. The Coleman Campaign notified the Phillips Campaign of the factual inaccuracy of the ad and asked that it be discontinued, but the Phillips Campaign has refused to stop running the misleading commercial.

“Mr. Phillip’s desperate attack ad not only knowingly misleads North Mississippi voters, but attempts to shift the conversation from the subjects of fairness and trust, on which he has been losing for months.” Coleman continued, “I want to thank all of my many, many supporters who have seen through Mr. Phillips’s misleading attack, and I want to encourage you to contact Mr. Phillips and his campaign and demand the attack stop.”

Flip Phillips & Regulation by Litigation

Monday, October 29th, 2012

I’ve heard talk but I haven’t seen the television advertisement in Mississippi’s Northern District criticizing Flip Phillips. I’ve heard it is about “guns” and without the benefit of the video (someone post it if you have it) I assume they’re talking about Phillips’ philosophy of “regulation by litigation.”

That is an issue I wrote about in June in my column looking at the race between Phillips and Josiah Coleman.

Phillips wrote, “the fundamental purpose of civil litigation today is shifting from a strictly compensatory purpose to regulatory or punitive purposes.” At a symposium discussing the article, he argued Mississippi became “lawsuit central” in the country not because of the excessively high verdicts, but rather, because the rest of the country was not as enlightened as Mississippi. Rather than reform lawsuit abuse in Mississippi, he seemed to argue the rest of the country should become more like the Magnolia State. In another presentation Phillips argued the elected branches of government have failed to do their jobs and “regulation by litigation” could address policy issues involving tobacco, guns, insurance, health care and product liability.

Phillips addressed this philosophy at the 9th Annual Consumer Rights Litigation Conference sponsored by the National Consumer Law Center. Here is more of his presentation (emphasis added).

“The primary goal of industrial age litigation has been compensation for an individual litigant. More and more frequently, post-industrial litigation seeks to serve a second, regulatory purpose, its goal being punishment for a defendants conduct. Society uses civil litigation to accomplish its desired goals not being accomplished through other means. As society’s needs have shifted from compensation to accountability, a primary purpose of civil litigation has shifted accordingly. The role of civil litigation in the Third Age, thus, has shifted from solely a compensatory function to a regulatory function.

Increasing corporate power and a lax regulatory environment have given rise to a pervasive perception consumer abuse. Insurance, health care, financial services, and other areas of modern life foster a growing sense of impotence by consumers. A recent issue of Business Week, featured the phenomenon in its cover story, “Too Much Corporate Power?”

The social and political regulatory environment in which business operates has grown increasingly permissive over the past twenty years. In his memoir, “On Money and Markets,” former Federal Reserve Bank officer and 1980’s Wall Street brokerage partner, Henry Kaufman observes a permissive style of leadership that allows too many abuses to go unchecked in financial industries today. There exists, Kaufman states, “an urgent need for regulatory and supervisory reform at home and abroad, as financial innovation and global integration outpace an already obsolete regulatory purpose.”

It is significant that a front page story in The Wall Street Journal the first week of this century was entitled “Civil Action: Why Americans Look to the Courts to Cure the Nation’s Social Ills.” Subtitled, “Evolution of Mass Litigation,” and “One Lawyer Says He Does the Jobs Congress Shirks,” the Journal noted increasing frustration by the public with the political process, concluding “More and more frequently turn to courts when the traditional avenues of politics or activism seem obstructed.” The Journal’s observation is reminiscent of this authors statement to Jane Bryant Quinn, quoted in Newsweek in 1994 at the inception of the life insurance Deceptive Sales Practices Litigation: “When public opinion gets ahead of the legislative process, the place people turn is to the Courts.”

In July, Time Magazine ran a lengthy spread entitled “Are Lawyers Running America.” Responding to the criticism that lawyers are operating as an unelected fourth branch of government using litigation to resolve social issues that should be resolved by the legislative process, Time noted the following sentiment: “Congress and the White House are so dependent on special-interest campaign contributions and so mired in partisan gridlock . . . that it is often impossible to get anything done there.. . .Leaving important public-policy decisions to elected branches might make sense if those branches did their jobs. But they are so indebted to special interests . . . they tend to stay gridlocked.”

As former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich noted, the era of regulation by Big Government may be ending, but the era of regulation by litigation is just beginning. Tobacco litigation, gun litigation, insurance, health care, products liability, and multiple other cases, are examples of civil litigation serving an increasingly important regulatory purpose in post-industrial society.

Judicial Campaign Finance Reports - Phillips leads in $, Coleman has momentum

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Here is a summary of the campaign finance report totals filed at yesterday’s deadline for Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. The report covers July 1 through September 30. (If the bar to the right is blocking it, click on it to see the full image.)

I’ll do a couple of posts on the reports, but first here is a look at the Northern District race between Richard T. Flip Phillips and Josiah Coleman.

Flip Phillips still leads in total contributions raised and cash-on-hand. It is worth noting back in April he loaned his campaign $50,250 and without that infusion, Josiah Coleman would have a larger cash-on-hand balance. Of course, whether money comes from the candidate or from supporters, it spends the same. But Coleman out-raised Phillips this cycle and that adds to a shift in momentum in this race that many observers have noticed in the past several weeks to favor Coleman.

Most of Phillips contributors were attorneys, law firms or litigation services. His largest contributor this cycle is Brenton Ver Ploeg of Miami, Florida who gave the maximum allowed of $5000.

Notable among Phillips’ contributions include former Governor Ronnie Musgrove ($1000) whom Phillips supported in 2008 against Roger Wicker; Democrat Representative Cecil Brown’s campaign ($1000); Philadelphia trial lawyer Ed Williamson ($1000) his firm ($1000) and his wife, the former state Senator and former Democratic Chairman Gloria Williamson ($500); the firm of Democratic Representative Ed Blackmon and his wife former Democratic Senator Barbara Blackmon ($250); prominent trial lawyers Crymes Pittman ($2500), Don Barrett ($1000) and Danny Cupit ($1000); and the firm of Philip W. Thomas ($1000) who also operates a great blog: MS Litigation Review.

A bulk of Coleman’s contributors are physicians or individuals and businesses in the health care industry showing this sector is getting behind the candidate Northeast Mississippi physicians call “The Healthy Choice for Mississippi Supreme Court“.

Coleman received a $5000 contribution from his father Thomas Coleman who is retired from the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Notable among Coleman’s other contributions include Republican oilman Billy Mounger ($1500); Louisville manufacturer Lex Taylor ($1000); former NFL player and Oxford Republican Todd Wade ($1000); and Republican state Representative Gary Chism ($250). Coleman had a strong showing among the medical and business political action committees: MS Medical PAC, MS General Contractors PAC, MFEPac; MS Manufacturers PAC, MS Bankers PAC, Hattiesburg Clinic Healthcare PAC, MS Health Care PAC, ($5000); Truck PAC ($2500); MS Poultry Association PAC, MS Road Builders PAC, ENPA Mississippi, AIA-SEINS PAC ($2000); Nucor Steel Recyclers PAC, Renasant Bank Employee Volunteer PAC, BancorpSouth Bank PAC, Electric Power Association of MS PAC ($1000); MS Concrete Industries Association PAC, MS Hospitality & Restaurant Association PAC ($500).

Phillips leads in total money raised, but Coleman has the momentum. This is THE race to watch in Mississippi on November 6 - both in competitiveness and impact on the state.

*UPDATED* - Ceola James totals added to the chart.

Court’s punt on damages shifts attention to Northern District campaign

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision to decline to answer the U.S. Fifth Circuit on whether Mississippi’s cap on non-economic damages is Constitutional postpones the inevitable: an eventual answer. Justice Mike Randolph wrote on behalf of the majority, “The constitutionality of a statute is not to be addressed ‘abstractly, speculatively, or in the manner of an academic discussion’ but rather in the context of its clear application.”

One day a case with clear application will be decided by the Mississippi Supreme Court. That day will come after this November’s elections in which three seats on the Court are being contested, a fourth - Justice Leslie King - has no opposition.

In the Southern District, Justice Randolph faces Gerald Talmadge Braddock. I wrote back in July:

Challenging Randolph is Gerald Talmadge Braddock, a Vicksburg native practicing law in Hattiesburg where his firm specializes in “serious personal injury, matrimonial law, and criminal defense.” Braddock lists his “area of expertise” as “DUI cases, Mass Tort Litigation with major pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, personal injury claims, criminal defense.” On his web site, Braddock notes he is the youngest lifetime member of the Mississippi Trial Lawyer Association (now called the Mississippi Association for Justice) where he says he serves on the Board of Governors.

Braddock recently opened a Gulf Coast office to focus on litigation regarding the Deep Horizon oil drill disaster. Last month he said on his Twitter account, “If somebody said ‘Free Money In Mississippi’, there would be a riot. Well, I’m saying it, ‘Free Money In Mississippi From the BP Oil Spill’”.

Randolph’s campaign is well funded, supported by all sides of the legal community, well organized and should be successful over Braddock who has struggled to gain financial support or build a grassroots network.

In the Central District, Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr. faces State Representative Earle Banks. As I wrote last month, the nature of the district makes this race competitive, despite Waller’s fundraising and organization advantages. Banks consistently opposed tort reform in the legislature, there is no indication he would change his mind on the Court.

A victory by Braddock or Banks would create a seismic shift on the Court in favor of trial lawyers. But for those supporting Mississippi’s tort reform including the caps on non-economic damages, the greatest concern should be the open race in the Northern District.

Josiah Coleman, a defense attorney from Oxford, has been endorsed by the Mississippi Association of Realtors, the Mississippi Medical PAC, BIPEC and the Mississippi Manufactures Association. The Mississippi Republican Party endorsed Coleman and this week an e-mail from GOP National Committeeman Henry Barbour and former GOP Chairmen Brad White, Arnie Hedermann and retired Judge Jim Herring (a Fordice appointee formerly on the Court of Appeals) endorsed Coleman and blasted his opponent Flip Phillips:

But while business organizations are rallying around Josiah, his opponent – Flip Phillips – is attempting to conceal his liberal Democrat ties. The truth is Flip Phillips is the former President of the Mississippi Trial Lawyer’s Association and has contributed upwards of $15,000 to Ronnie Musgrove, Jim Hood, Chuck McRae and the Democrat National Committee. He also led the legal effort to overturn the tort reform that helped stop trial lawyers from making Mississippi a legal hellhole.

Phillips is not just a practicing trial lawyer, he is a philosophical advocate for the plaintiffs bar and his election to the Court would not just be a vote but a clever voice of persuasion to move the Court away from the established balance. From my column in June:

Coleman’s opponent is Richard T. “Flip” Phillips of Batesville, a former president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association (now Mississippi Association for Justice). Early in the campaign, Phillips, a well regarded and successful attorney, was being presented to many in the business community as a candidate they could support. But his view of the civil justice system, as discussed in an article published in the Mississippi Law Journal in 2001 titled “Class Actions & Joinder in Mississippi” is exactly the opposite of what state business interests want in a judge.

Phillips wrote, “the fundamental purpose of civil litigation today is shifting from a strictly compensatory purpose to regulatory or punitive purposes.” At a symposium discussing the article, he argued Mississippi became “lawsuit central” in the country not because of the excessively high verdicts, but rather, because the rest of the country was not as enlightened as Mississippi. Rather than reform lawsuit abuse in Mississippi, he seemed to argue the rest of the country should become more like the Magnolia State. In another presentation Phillips argued the elected branches of government have failed to do their jobs and “regulation by litigation” could address policy issues involving tobacco, guns, insurance, health care and product liability.

Because the constitutionality of damage caps could come before the Court, Phillips and Coleman can’t address the issue in the campaign. However, in a 2009 case from DeSoto County, Phillips represented a plaintiff against a construction company who won a $30 million judgment: $13.7 million in noneconomic damages. Because of the damages cap, the trial judge reduced that portion of the verdict to $1 million, leaving $17.2 million for the plaintiff. Phillips appealed arguing the damage cap was unconstitutional and asked the Court to strike it down. The plaintiff and the construction company settled before the Court had an opportunity to decide the issue.

The Court’s decision yesterday not to answer on the constitutionality of Mississippi’s non-economic damage caps should focus attention on the race in the Northern District. While it is unknown how the Court will rule when the question finally and fully comes before it, the perspective of Phillips is clearly known as he has argued before the Court it is unconstitutional.

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