Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter became upset when he didn’t get a promised judgeship, former lawyer Timothy Balducci says in a sworn deposition that may be a preamble to his testimony at DeLaughter’s trial.
Balducci, who was questioned as part of the unrelated Eaton v. Frisby lawsuit, is expected to testify against DeLaughter, who goes on trial Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court in Oxford on corruption charges. DeLaughter has insisted he is innocent, following the law in his rulings.
Contacted for comment about the deposition, DeLaughter’s attorney, Thomas Durkin of Chicago, remarked, “I find it very curious how a sealed document ended up in the hands of the press, and it’s more proof to me that money is the root of all evil. People will do a lot of things and say a lot of things to protect their money. Someone is obviously attempting to poison the jury venire.”
“He was going to get consideration by the President for a federal judgeship,” Balducci replied.
When an open federal judgeship in southern Mississippi was filled, Peters told the Scruggs legal team “DeLaughter was very upset” about not being included for consideration, Balducci said.
Peters told them DeLaughter “wanted some assurances about what was going on, that he had exposed himself by helping Scruggs in the Wilson case and was beginning to wonder if Scruggs was essentially going to renege on him and not uphold his part of the deal,” Balducci said. “And I remember that (former state auditor Steve) Patterson and I and Peters all sort of laughingly agreed with each other that he might renege.”
Prior to DeLaughter entering an important ruling, Peters shared the last page of that ruling with Scruggs’ legal team, Balducci said. That page showed that Scruggs owed Wilson zero.
“So when he (DeLaughter) ultimately did enter that order, it came out in the same form we had already seen it,” he said.
Balducci acknowledged, too, that when this order was issued, he had made a serious mistake legally, failing to provide any documentation or support for his positions.
But he said DeLaughter still accepted their numbers.
“If you look back, in the history of that case, the boxes and boxes, and volumes of documents in that case and all of the orders issued by Judge DeLaughter in that case, that order, singularly, is the only order that he ever entered with no support, no reasoning, no grounds, no basis,” Balducci said.
This is why Scruggs settled the lawsuit, rather than risk the exposure on appeal, he said. “But for that mess up, if you will, the case wouldn’t necessarily have had to have been settled. It could have been just won at the courthouse through the influence of Judge DeLaughter for a lot less money. It was said to me that was a $3 million mistake.”