Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter is asking the court to dismiss a federal case against him because he says it boils down to a “meaningless courtesy call” from former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.
DeLaughter, made famous by successfully prosecuting Civil Rights-era murderer Byron De La Beckwith, says he never accepted anything of value from tobacco tort king Richard “Dickie” Scruggs.
DeLaughter is accused of ruling in Scruggs favor because Scruggs said he would call his brother-in-law, then Sen. Lott, and ask the senator to recommend DeLaughter for a federal judgeship.
Lott said he called DeLaughter as a “courtesy,” telling the judge he would be considered, but Lott recommended someone else for the job.
In court documents recently filed, DeLaughter argues the case should be dismissed because “any qualified lawyer could be considered a federal judge for free.”
The government responded, but did not address this argument.
Instead, they said DeLaughter broke the law by agreeing to accept and offering to accept a federal judgeship dangled before him by the Scruggs legal team, and by secretly and corruptly affording Scruggs unilateral access to the court not enjoyed by the plaintiff.
DeLaughter’s attorney, Thomas Durkin, contends this argument has two flaws. One being DeLaughter didn’t agree to accept a federal judgeship; rather he agreed to be considered, which Durkin says is not a “thing of value.”
Several weeks before talking to Lott, DeLaughter wrote letters to both Sens. Thad Cochran and Lott asking to be considered for the judgeship. Durkin argues that because anyone can write a senator for consideration, being considered is not valuable.
Daily Mississippian 5/16/9