JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Attorney Jim Reeves has issued a response to allegations that he and eight others involved in the Singing River Health System pension plan case held a secret meeting last week.
On Friday, attorneys Early Denham and Harvey Barton, who represent more than 200 SRHS retirees, filed an emergency motion with the Mississippi Supreme Court accusing Reeves, Judge Breland Hilburn, attorneys Billy Guice, Matthew Mestayer, Brett Williams, Kelly Sessoms, Steve Simpson and court appointed SRHS trustee Scott Taylor of holding a "clandestine meeting" at Britt Singletary's office in Biloxi. Singletary is the Special Master appointed in the case.
"The recent false allegations by attorneys Earl Denham and Harvey Barton that some type of improper secret meeting took place in the Singing River litigation are simply the latest attempt to improperly manipulate the emotions of pension plan members," said Reeves.
According to the motion, Hilburn issued an order after the meeting that halted all further proceedings regarding the case in Jackson County Chancery Court. That included a hearing that was scheduled for Wednesday where Barton and Denham were going to ask Hilburn to recuse himself from the case, along with a motion to allow the attorneys to continue gathering evidence for their case.
Barton and Denham said the meeting and order raised "serious concerns regarding the impartiality, bias and ongoing conduct" of Hilburn and Singletary.
The 57 page motion asked the Supreme Court to remove Hilburn, Singletary and Simpson, and order all those who were at the meeting to resign from the case.
According to Reeves, the meeting was about the proposed class action settlement, in which Denham's and Barton's clients are not parties. Reeves contends that Denham and Barton had no right to attend the meeting because they are not involved in the class action lawsuit.
"In short, neither we nor our clients have a right to attend conferences or meetings in Mr. Denham's or Mr. Barton's (or any other attorneys) separate cases," said Reeves. "Conversely, they have no right to attend meetings in our cases. Such meetings are customary, routine and take place in cases every day. This meeting was completely appropriate."