With four weeks to go until the Aug. 17 trial for Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, a 1978 Ole Miss Law School graduate, the question on the mind of many in the legal community is if he’ll plead guilty before the start of the trial.
DeLaughter’s attorney, Tom Durkin, has indicated that the trial will happen.
“There’s no plea negotiations,” Durkin said. “(DeLaughter) has said from the beginning he’s innocent, and we plan to prove that at trial.”
The deadline for a plea deal is Aug. 3, court records indicate, but in other cases defendants have pleaded guilty past the plea deal deadline date.
The judge is accused of unfairly ruling in billionaire former lawyer Dickie Scruggs’ favor in a fee dispute case between Scruggs and his former partner Roberts Wilson.
Presently there are signs the pending trial is gearing up.
Scruggs is en route to Oxford from federal prison in Kentucky, and another potential witness, Timothy Balducci, is also on his way back to Mississippi.
Both pleaded guilty to trying to bribe a different judge over a Katrina fee dispute case.
Scruggs also pleaded to attempting to bribe DeLaughter.
Neither Durkin nor the federal prosecutor would comment on who may be a witness.
Other witnesses could include Lott as well as those charged in the first Scruggs case, including former State Auditor Steven Patterson and ex-lawyer Zach Scruggs.
Oxford defense attorney Tom Freeland, who has blogged about the Scruggs case at his Web site, nmisscommentor.
com, said that DeLaughter’s attorneys are probably working round the clock on the DeLaughter case.
Researching backgrounds of potential jurors and working on jury instructions, researching, working on potential last minute motions and preparing witness questions would be just a few of the many things that need to be done, Freeland said.