Judge: Efforts to sway made

Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter has told federal authorities he became aware in 2006 that some people were trying to improperly influence him to rule in favor of lawyer Dickie Scruggs in a Hinds County legal-fees dispute.

DeLaughter told authorities he didn’t know whether he was influenced but says he’s followed the law in all his rulings.

In 2006, DeLaughter rejected a special master’s recommendations that could have paid Scruggs’ former law partner, William Roberts Wilson Jr., about $15 million in fees. DeLaughter eventually ruled that Scruggs didn’t owe any more than the $1.5 million he had belatedly paid Wilson.

Officials from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division in Washington are investigating DeLaughter’s actions in the case and spent last week in Mississippi interviewing witnesses.

DeLaughter told The Clarion-Ledger he never was approached in the case and, if he had been, he would have reported it to authorities. He has denied any wrongdoing.

His lawyer, Cynthia Speetjens of Madison, would not comment Saturday.

Jerry Mitchell
Clarion Ledger