In January 2006, special master Bobby Sneed, appointed by the Hinds County Circuit Court to evaluate the evidence in Wilson’s lawsuit, made recommendations that largely sided with Wilson, leading his lawyers to seek $15 million in legal fees.
Three days afterward, Scruggs replaced his lead counsel, Jack Dunbar of Oxford, remarking, according to another attorney, John Jones of Jackson, that “Hinds County Circuit Court is a snake pit, and I need a snake.”
Scruggs installed Langston as lead counsel, assisted by New Albany lawyer Tim Balducci, who has since pleaded guilty to scheming to bribe Judge Lackey to rule in Scruggs’ favor. Balducci also is now disbarred.
According to the scheme described by federal prosecutors, Langston contacted former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters, DeLaughter’s mentor and close friend, and arranged for Peters to initially be paid $50,000 in cash.
This money was flown in to pay Peters, and Balducci testified that Peters was told that no paperwork would be filed with the IRS regarding this cash.
“So why did he (Peters) need the money so quick that they had to fly it down?” asked one of Wilson’s attorneys, Bill Kirksey of Jackson. “Yet after this, he’s content to take their checks? The circumstances smell.”