Bribery scheme charges defended

Federal prosecutors on Friday defended the charges brought against Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, accusing him of being involved in an illegal bribery scheme with multimillionaire Dickie Scruggs.

The defense’s motion to dismiss corruption charges “should be denied and overruled,” wrote U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Norman, both of Oxford. “Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter should face a jury of his peers.”

In documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Oxford, prosecutors responded that under case law by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, there is no requirement to show DeLaughter benefitted personally. What is required, they said, was to show he violated Mississippi law.

Prosecutors accused DeLaughter of violating his oath, the Code of Judicial Conduct and the state’s criminal statutes by agreeing to accept and offering to accept a federal judgeship Scruggs’ legal team “dangled before him” and “by secretly and corruptly affording Scruggs unilateral access to the court not enjoyed by the plaintiff.”

Evidence presented at trial will show Scruggs’ attorneys paid DeLaughter’s former boss, former longtime District Attorney Ed Peters, $1 million to influence DeLaughter “and to obtain secret access to the court,” prosecutors wrote.

Peters, who wasn’t indicted in the case, is now cooperating with authorities.

According to prosecutors, Scruggs’ attorney, Joey Langston of Booneville, sent word by Peters that “Scruggs could help DeLaughter with his well-known aspiration to become a federal judge. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Sen. Trent Lott telephoned DeLaughter asking if he would be interested in a federal judgeship and explaining that his brother-in-law, Dickie Scruggs, had told him what a ‘fine judge’ DeLaughter would be. None of these … contacts were ever made known to … Wilson or his attorneys.”

Clarion-Ledger 4/10/9