MTP readers will recall that Google sued Mississippi’s populist Attorney General Jim Hood to stop Hood’s investigation into Google’s drug habits.
More on this to come, but the short history of the case is that Hood served a request for documents on Google consisting of a series of questions about Google’s business practices in furtherance of Hood’s investigation into a number of issues, mostly whether Google had violated the nonprosecution agreement Google entered into with the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice that allowed Google to pay $500,000,000 to avoid being prosecuted–and having its senior executives including Larry Page prosecuted–for violating the Controlled Substances Act.
Hood’s concern was that Google not only violated the terms of the nonprosecution agreement but also may have violated a variety of Mississippi consumer protection laws for advertising illegal drugs in Mississippi.
Let’s be clear–people die from buying illegal drugs online. That’s why we have the Ryan Haight Act carried by Senator Diane Feinstein–a senator from California.
The overwhelming majority of the questions in Hood’s request concerned Google’s compliance. Google promptly sued Hood to stop the investigation. As luck would have it, the case was heard in federal court before a judge who is apparently Hood’s long time political opponent. Google was able to delay Hood’s investigation while Hood appealed to the Fifth Circuit, where the case is now.
The AGs summarize the fundamental flaw with Google’s case:
This is a case about the authority of state Attorneys General to exercise one of their fundamental powers: the ability to investigate potential violations of state law. What should be a routine discovery dispute in Mississippi state courts, resolved under established state procedures, has instead evolved into a contrivance for a company doing business in the state of Mississippi to invoke federal jurisdiction by asserting potential affirmative defenses to claims that have never been filed.
Imagine if the tobacco companies had done the same to Hood’s predecessor and mentor former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore to avoid what became a multibillion dollar multistate settlement against Big Tobacco? Remember that one?
So it should be no surprise that forty–count ’em, forty–state Attorneys General filed an amicus brief supporting Hood’s ability to conduct his investigation while affording Google full due process rights to object or otherwise defend itself. As the forty AGs noted, doing otherwise “would provide a roadmap for any potential wrongdoer subject to a legitimate state law enforcement investigation to attempt to thwart such an inquiry.” I wonder what the other 10 are thinking?
I know what these guys are thinking?
And remember–smoking doesn’t cause cancer.
Read the brief here.