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Tort reform group highlights AG contingency-fee deals

From the American Tort Reform Association, a news release, "National Study Documents Abuse In Contracting Practices of Certain State Attorneys General":

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) released a study documenting inappropriate uses of contracts between certain state attorneys general and political campaign contributors who stand to make millions by being selected to litigate cases on behalf of state governments. Some state attorneys general, in contrast, operate at the highest ethical standards, according to the report's research by ATRA's AG Agenda Watch project.

The study, entitled Beyond Reproach? Fostering Integrity and Public Trust in the Offices of State Attorneys General, examines ethical, fairness and conflict issues related to state attorneys general hiring private attorneys. It reports the findings of campaign finance research linking large donations by plaintiffs' firms and lawyers to some attorneys general who subsequently handed out state contracts potentially worth millions of dollars in fees to those same lawyers.

The study highlights Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and West Virginia. As ATRA's adviser, former Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, says, ""At the top of the 'to-do' list for attorneys general should be setting policies that engender stronger public confidence in the office of the attorney general - particularly in those special circumstances when the hiring of private lawyers to litigate on behalf of the state is justified. In those cases it should be done on a competitive, transparent, accountable and value-driven basis."

Sherman "Tiger" Joyce, ATRA's president, also gives a post-election rundown on civil justice issues in The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, "Trial Lawyer Lobby's Focus Likely To Shift To Executive Branch In 2011-2012."

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Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.