Last week Judge Bramlette issued an Opinion and Order allowing Jackson New Media, Inc. (Alan Lange’s Ya’ll Politics), WDAM, WLBT and WLOX to challenge the settlement agreement in the State Farm v. Hood case. Attorney General Jim Hood opposes the request to unseal the agreement. The challengers will now file a motion to lift the seal and Judge Bramlette will rule on that motion.
It’s an interesting indicator of the direction of the media that the challenge was made by a blog instead of a print newspaper. In the past, newspapers would have made this type of challenge. But with circulations down and news papers both struggling financially and controlled by large corporations, the days of newspapers being the conscience of the community appear over. That role appears to be shifting to bloggers. But in Mississippi at least, there are probably not enough bloggers yet to completely fill the void.
Hopefully, the success in this case will lead to media outlets challenging Judge Yerger’s confidentiality order in the Eaton v. Frisby case. The case is probably the single biggest case in the Mississippi state court system and involved one of the parties (Eaton) secretly hiring Ed Peters when Bobby DeLaughter was the judge on the case. Judge Yerger’s decision to seal virtually the entire proceeding appears unjustified and, more importantly, is not explained in the public court record.