Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter wants the jury pool for his federal corruption trial pulled from the entire northern half of Mississippi so he has a better chance of finding jurors not tainted by media coverage.
DeLaughter is accused of giving an unfair advantage to former attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs in a lawsuit over millions of dollars in legal fees from asbestos litigation.
DeLaughter’s trial is scheduled for Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court in Oxford. He has pleaded not guilty. He has said his rulings followed the law.
Jurors for federal trials in Oxford usually come from a 17-county area, but DeLaughter wants that expanded to the entire 37-county northern district because of media attention in the case.
DeLaughter’s attorney, Thomas Anthony Durkin of Chicago, also wants to use a lengthy jury questionnaire that seeks information ranging from prospective jurors’ favorite television shows to knowledge of DeLaughter’s past as a prosecutor.
DeLaughter earned a national reputation in 1994 when he was an assistant district attorney in Hinds County and successfully prosecuted Byron de la Beckwith for the 30-year-old murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The case was portrayed in the 1996 movie “Ghosts of Mississippi,” and DeLaughter wrote a book about the trial.