While no one was watching on April 15, Joey Langston filed to have the conviction, based on his guilty plea to an information in 2008, overturned. Langston served nearly three years in prison for his role in conspiring to bribe Hinds County Judge Bobby DeLaughter on behalf of Dickie Scruggs.
“Scruggs told Langston to let the Judge know that if he ruled in his favor he would pass his name along for consideration regarding the federal judgeship,” the transcript reads. “Langston then informed Peters, who, in turn, passed the information along to Judge DeLaughter.”
Mills asked Langston, “Did you do what he just stated?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” the 50-year-old Langston responded.
Langston now joins Dickie Scruggs and Zach Scruggs who all swore under oath that they were guilty of crimes they were charged with and then welched on that oath and tried to have their guilty pleas/convictions undone via various arcane overlawyering tactics.
From the Y’allPolitics Memory Division, it’s important to remember the context of Langston’s plea. Langston was charged with helping to deliver $50,000 in cash to Ed Peters to influence DeLaughter on behalf of Dickie Scruggs. Langston reportedly earned millions as part of a “reverse contingency” arrangement from Scruggs for this plan. At the time, Langston was facing a whole lot more than the conspiracy to commit honest services fraud that he eventually pleaded guilty to. The feds had him on possible money laundering and RICO charges. Even Curtis Wilkie said so.
As part of the deal he cut, Langston crafted the arrangement that his plea ended his criminal liability for the Scruggs mess entirely.
Many commenters (as at David Rossmiller’s) have noted that Langston appears to have drawn an unusually favorable plea deal from federal investigators, who are granting him remarkably broad immunity as to uncharged offenses, and not even stipulating that he give up all ill-gotten funds. Presumably this signals that they expect Langston’s cooperation to be unusually extensive and valuable.
So now, he’s gone away and served his time and his argument to Judge Mike Mills now is that what he pleaded guilty to may not even be a crime anymore and that he should have his conviction overturned.
This is offensive on about a dozen levels. While crying in front of Judge Mills when he pleaded guilty, you would almost think after reading the motion to the Court that this was Langston’s secret plan all along. Plea to something and negotiate a deal that the government was bound to and then years later go back and try to welch on the arrangement that avoids asset forfeiture and try to get your original conviction overturned. That would also certainly open up the door for him to try and get his law license back. Langston’s former brethren in the Mississippi Bar should be keeping an eye on this case now.
It’s not that the effort isn’t legally possible (albeit EXTREMLY unlikely). It’s that it smacks of the kind of the too-cute-by-half “I’m not really guilty” attitude that we have seen from this band of Scruggs(es), Minor and now Langston for the last five years where there are assaults on the Court to have guilty pleas and convictions vacated. Langston now has unquestionably spit in the face of the prosecutors (at the time) and Judge Mills. The fact that his original lawyers, the Fareses, did not file this on his behalf is certainly notable. Former MS Supreme Court Justices Reuben Anderson and Fred Banks along with ace criminal attorney Frank Trapp are representing him now.
If all of these guys had just pleaded guilty been utterly contrite and just gone away, their image would already likely be fully rehabilitated by now.
On a personal note, I have participated in about 80 different speaking appearances from San Francisco to San Diego, to Orlando, to DC and New Orleans and dozens of points in between for the Kings of Tort book. I’ve told thousands of people that we haven’t heard the last from this crew. They would not go quietly. They’d be back someday after they thought everyone had forgotten. Maybe the end game is a pardon or maybe it’s something else entirely, but make no mistake, it’s being professionally executed and there is an end game in mind.
I was right, and we will continue to be watching.