With the recent sentencing of Richard “Dickie” Scruggs on mail fraud charges, there was great speculation as to the fate of Mississippi Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who was the alleged recipient of a bribe. The speculation is now over with the indictment of the judge with conspiracy, mail fraud and obstruction. The bribery involved a promise to help secure a federal judgeship with the help of Senator Trent Lott (R., Miss.).
Scruggs, who is the brother-in-law of Trent Lott and a famous anti-tobacco attorney, was already serving five years on a prior case.
DeLaughter presided over a case in which among Scruggs and other lawyers were sparing over millions of dollars in fees from asbestos litigation. Scruggs admitted that he tried to influence DeLaughter to rule in his favor by promising his help in securing a federal judgeship. Ultimately, Lott talked to DeLaughter but decided to recommend someone else for the job.
Scruggs’ admission of his role added two years to the five year sentence that he received for conspiring to bribe the court in another case.
The indictment alleges that from August 2005 to August 2006, DeLaughter “secretly and corruptly communicated with the Scruggs legal team through Ed Peters, affording them a unique and valuable opportunity to foresee and attempt to influence his rulings.”
Lott features prominently in the indictment:
On or about March 29, 2006, in order to exploit Judge DeLaughter’s aspirations to become a federal judge, Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs caused his brother-in-law, then a United States Senator from Mississippi, to offer Judge DeLaughter consideration for appointment to a federal judgeship then open in the Southern District of Mississippi.
For a copy of the indictment, click here.
For the full story, click here.