Hood: Legal settlements can’t be kept secret

Attorney General Jim Hood

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Attorney General Jim Hood says Mississippi government agencies can’t keep legal settlements secret, but leaders of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics say their hands are tied by a federal judge’s order.

The bureau in June settled a federal lawsuit brought by employee Mary Katherine Sullivan alleging deputy director Mike Perkins and others sexually harassed her, creating a hostile work environment.

Bureau Director Sam Owens said Wednesday that U.S. Magistrate Judge John Roper ordered parties to keep the agreement confidential, saying he can’t overrule a federal judge.

Perkins retired Aug. 4.

Hood says some settlement agreements previously signed by the state have contained a clause calling for terms to be released only under the public records law. Hood, though, says he intends to instruct lawyers to stop inserting that clause.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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