Court documents claim Lynn Fitch used her power as AG to intimidate

Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch discusses the importance of establishing a Task Force on...
Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch discusses the importance of establishing a Task Force on State Cybersecurity during a governor's news conference, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)(Rogelio V. Solis | AP)
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 8:43 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - While Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has been known to use legal proceedings to send a message -- like lawsuits against China, Google and battleground states that helped decide the 2020 election -- filings by her own stepmother accuse Fitch of using her position as the state’s top law enforcement official to intimidate and influence.

The stepmother, Aleita Fitch, filed an initial complaint in April alleging that Lynn was making health care and power of attorney decisions for her husband -- and Lynn’s father -- Bill Fitch, when that power of attorney had been revoked days after it was issued.

“Lynn Fitch had Bill Fitch removed from Baptist Hospital in Oxford and moved him to another hospital,” said Aleita’s lawyer, Ray Hill. “She then would not tell Aleita Fitch, Bill’s wife, where he was.”

Lynn said in court filings that staff members at Baptist in Oxford noticed Aleita verbally and mentally abusing Bill, and his physician recommended that Aleita not be allowed to have unsupervised visits with him.

The Marshall County Chancery Court judge granted a motion months later to force Lynn to allow Aleita to visit Bill.

“Since that motion was granted, Aleita, my client, who is 80 years old, has not missed one visit with him in the last 3 months. That’s three times a week, every week, two hour drive both ways. She drives herself,” Hill said in a statement to WLBT. “She obviously loves her husband very much. This entire ordeal with Lynn has ruined Aleita’s life.”

Lynn maintained in legal filings that an advanced health care directive/power of attorney for health care authorizes her to make those decisions and she was trying to protect her father.

“What’s clear is there’s a great deal of animosity between a daughter and a stepmom in this case,” said Mississippi College School of Law Professor Matt Steffey. “And that’s sad, and it’s tragic. And it’s largely a private matter that is of concern to the family and friends.”

What becomes public, however, are claims from Aleita that the AG used her position to influence the case.

“Lynn brings her state funded security detail with her everywhere she goes. She has brought them to Aleita’s home, the hospital, and court. This is very intimidating to Aleita. Whether or not Lynn’s use of this security detail in reference to her dealings with Aleita is a violation of the law is not for me to decide,” Hill said.

Steffey said it’s not that simple.

“When you tell me that the Attorney General Security details with her as she travels about, my general sentiment is, well, that’s what they’re there for. They wouldn’t be providing security if they were elsewhere,” Steffey said.

Court filings allege those bodyguards also took firearms from Aleita’s home and were present while Lynn filmed Aleita without her permission.

Aleita also claims an investigation from Adult Protective Services into her treatment of Bill is being used as a scare tactic.

Adult Protective Services falls under the Office of Attorney General, though it’s unclear whether Lynn had any direct influence over the investigation.

“Anytime a party claims abuse of public authority, they bear a difficult burden of overcoming the presumption of good faith that I think public servants are generally entitled to. When it comes from parties that are deeply oppositional to each other, I think that colors the allegations,” Steffey said. “It does for me, when when someone involved in a family dispute over visitation describes the other party as the worst parent on Earth. It is not a neutral assessment.”

The attorney general did not respond to our requests for comment.

Her chief of staff, Michelle Williams, did so instead.

“We consider this a private matter between two private parties and we’re going to let the courts decide,” Williams said in an emailed statement.

Neither Williams nor the AG has denied -- whether publicly or in court documents -- those actions involving bodyguards or the Adult Protective Services investigation.

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