Jackson County

SRHS to court: Disregard videos, photos included with lawyers' appeal

Watch: Singing River Hospital attorneys’ ‘secret meeting’ with judge

Video shows Singing River Hospital Systems players Special Master Britt Singletary, attorney Jim Reeves, fiduciary manager Steve Simpson, attorneys Matthew Mestayer, Billy Guice and Kelly Sessoms before and after they met with Chancery Judge Brela
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Video shows Singing River Hospital Systems players Special Master Britt Singletary, attorney Jim Reeves, fiduciary manager Steve Simpson, attorneys Matthew Mestayer, Billy Guice and Kelly Sessoms before and after they met with Chancery Judge Brela

Singing River Health System is asking the state Supreme Court not to consider submitted videos and photos when deciding what to do with a request for emergency relief.

The request for relief involves the Chancery Court case of retirees suing the Jackson County hospital system over a failed pension.

The pictures and video are exhibits showing a presiding chancery judge, SRHS lawyers and other key players meeting outside the courtroom. The Jan. 12 meeting didn't include two lawyers who represent 200 of the retirees. It was those two lawyers who appealed to the high court for relief.

The rub, according to the motion for relief, is that shortly after leaving the meeting, the chancery judge issued an email stopping all Chancery Court litigation in the case.

The lawyers who were left out of the meeting, Earl Denham and Harvey Barton, taped the comings and goings of the meeting and submitted them as exhibits in the motion. They claim in the motion the meeting was unfair and that Hilburn hasn't been fair to them all along.

The Supreme Court has already issued an order requiring certain people, who were named in the motion and were videotaped, to respond to the court by Tuesday.

They are SRHS attorneys Brett Williams and Kelly Sessoms; former judge Stephen Simpson, fiduciary agent for the pension; Jackson County-hired attorney Billy Guice; attorneys James Reeves and Matthew Mestayer, who represent retirees; recently resigned SRHS Trustee Scott Taylor; Special Master Britt Singletary; and special appointed Chancery Judge Breland Hilburn.

To date, Hilburn, Sessoms and Williams have responded.

The state high court hasn't ruled yet on the request to "strike" the videos and pictures from the Supreme Court record.

Striking, in this case, means SRHS asks that the Supreme Court justices not consider the contents of the video or the pictures when making their decision.

They say the exhibits are not "properly before the court" and Denham and Barton didn't supply copies to all the attorneys involved.

In his response to the situation, as ordered by the high court, Hilburn said he felt the Jan. 12 meeting wasn't improper and that it was to be an update on federal litigation that Denham and Barton weren't involved in. Hilburn characterized the pension battle "a very difficult case to manage," because of the hostility that has developed. He accused Denham and Barton of using every form of media in an "unwarranted attack utilizing a distortion of the truth."

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