Scruggs sued by former partner

The suit alleges Lott and DeLaughter aided Dickie Scruggs and the others “in their attempt to thwart and defraud” Wilson.

Lott, who has denied doing anything illegal, originally was scheduled to testify as a prosecution witness against Scruggs. Lott recommended someone besides DeLaughter to fill the federal judgeship.

Lott spokesman Bret Boyles would not comment Monday.

DeLaughter has denied taking any kind of bribe and said he followed the law in his rulings. He has been suspended from the bench since March while the state Judicial Performance Commission investigates allegations against him.

Peters, who has given up his law license, is cooperating with federal authorities and has turned over the $425,000 remaining from the $1 million he received as a “reverse contingency fee” from Scruggs in the Wilson case.

In last year’s hearing, Balducci testified Scruggs’ team flew down $50,000 in cash to hire Peters and that Peters was told it was tax free because no paperwork was going to be filed. Peters was never listed as an attorney of record in the case.

Balducci said Peters talked regularly with DeLaughter to influence him and shared a “rough draft” of DeLaughter’s judicial order with Scruggs’ legal team before DeLaughter entered it. Judicial rules prohibit judges from communicating with only one side.

Former Booneville lawyer Joey Langston has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to taking part in the scheme to influence DeLaughter. Langston has already settled his claims with Wilson and is not named in the suit.

According to Langston’s plea agreement, Dickie Scruggs told Langston in February 2006 that he would let Langston, Peters and Patterson split the “savings” from the lawsuit if DeLaughter ruled in their favor.

By the time both sides met for trial in August 2006, DeLaughter concluded Wilson was owed nothing more than belated payments by Scruggs totaling nearly $1.5 million.

In contrast, another former law partner, Alwyn Luckey, who also sued Scruggs over those legal fees but in federal court, received $17 million.

After DeLaughter’s ruling, Dickie Scruggs paid $3 million to Langston, who split the money with Peters and Patterson, according to Langston’s plea agreement.

Wilson’s latest lawsuit alleges he knew nothing about DeLaughter being corruptly influenced.

“Wilson relied on the robe and the seat behind the bench as a representation by the Hinds County Circuit Court that the judicial officer sitting there was impartial and not a corrupted, bribed individual,” the lawsuit says.

Jerry Mitchell
Clarion Ledger
1/13/9