A native of New Houlka, James Matthew Hood has served as the 39th attorney general of Mississippi since 2003. At the time, he was the only Democrat holding statewide elected office in Mississippi.
After receiving his J.D. degree from the University of Mississippi in 1988, he served as a clerk with the Mississippi Supreme Court, an assistant attorney general and as district attorney for the Mississippi Third Judicial District.
In his early career as attorney general, Hood gained notoriety for prosecuting civil rights-era cold case murders. In 2005, Hood prosecuted former Klansman Edgar Ray Killen for orchestrating the 1964 murders of Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney in Philadelphia, Mississippi during Freedom Summer.
As attorney general, Hood has been active in the legal aspects of the recovery of Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after Katrina, Hood partnered with Mississippi plaintiff attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs in filing lawsuits against numerous high-profile insurance companies. Scruggs was later convicted in federal court for attempted bribery; Hood’s relationship with Scruggs has prompted criticism from his Republican rivals.
(Editor’s note: Richard Scruggs is a Mississippi Today donor).
Hood has sued many other out-of-state companies in areas such as the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries. He says these suits have resulted in the recovery of more than $3 billion.
As attorney general, Hood, who considers himself pro-life, has also defended the state in several lawsuits over legislative actions to restrict abortion access. Hood’s office has also presided over many death penalty cases. In 2016 Hood argued that lawmakers should allow state executions by firing squad, electrocution, hanging and nitrogen gas when drugs for lethal injections are not available.
Hood is a fifth generation Mississippian and an avid outdoorsman and hunter. He and his wife, Debbie, have three children – Rebecca, Matthew and Annabelle.