JACKSON — A judge defended complaints that he’s been moving too slowly after having two cases taken from him, including a long-running lawsuit that Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed against Entergy Corp. and assigned to another judge.
U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate told The Clarion-Ledger presiding over high-profile cases led to a backlog of more than 100 pending motions.
“It is my fault as captain of the ship,” Wingate said. “The buck stops with me.”
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cited Wingate’s failure to rule on pending motions in removing him from the Entergy case last week. The lawsuit claims the New Orleans-based utility and its subsidiaries illegally manipulated the purchase and the sale of electricity to maximize profits. Entergy has denied Hood’s claims.
In a court filing, Hood said that reassigning the case to another judge was the “only viable option” given that the litigation has been pending for eight years.
“This case has languished too long in the District Court, with virtually no movement,” Hood’s petition said.
Wingate said he thought the petition was moot because he had ruled on outstanding motions by the date set by the 5th Circuit and notified the court.
The court also removed Wingate from a second case involving Mississippi suing Texas-based KiOR executives and its primary investor. The suit claims the defendants committed fraud to secure a state loan by intentionally misrepresenting the capability of technology that would produce crude oil from biomass.
According to Wingate, there was a mix-up and he didn’t receive the petition from the 5th Circuit for him to rule on the motions until the order was sent transferring the case.
He said he has a new staff and has decreased the backlog to about 30 or 40 pending motions and will have the remainder finished by the end of next week.
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