MITCHELL – Fairy tale career ends in tragedy for Bobby DeLaughter

He wore the suit of an acclaimed prosecutor before donning the robe of a well-respected judge. Now Bobby DeLaughter expects to wear the uniform of a prison inmate.

Hours after resigning his $104,000-a-year job as Hinds County circuit judge, DeLaughter, 55, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice. Under his plea agreement, he would serve 18 months in prison and wouldn’t have to cooperate with federal authorities in their continuing investigation. No date has been set for sentencing.

Under the agreement, DeLaughter’s remaining four counts of mail fraud conspiracy and involvement in a bribery scheme would be dismissed. But if U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson rejects the plea deal, DeLaughter can withdraw his guilty plea and go on trial. His trial had been set for Aug. 17.

After the hearing, Durkin said his client maintains he followed the law in his rulings in the legal fees case.

But DeLaughter “apologizes,” Durkin said, for lying to FBI agents about ex parte communication he had about the lawsuit with Peters, who served as Hinds County’s district attorney for more than two decades.

“I hope one mistake doesn’t ruin all other good deeds,” Durkin said. “Even heroes make one mistake, and that’s a big mistake.”

Kirksey doesn’t regard DeLaughter as a hero.

“Bobby DeLaughter is a convicted felon, and he has disappointed the bench, the bar and, more importantly, his own family,” he said.

Another Wilson attorney, Charlie Merkel of Clarksdale, who attended Thursday’s hearing, said he couldn’t “imagine a more despicable act by a judicial official.”

Jerry Mitchell