Justice For Sale? Scruggs Link to Jackson Judge Under Scrutiny - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 02/21/08

Justice For Sale? Scruggs Link to Jackson Judge Under Scrutiny

By Marsha Thompson
marsha@wlbt.net

Striking new developments regarding allegations of two high profile judicial bribery cases involving Dickie Scruggs. Prosecutors said today, authorities are investigating an alleged bribery case involving Scruggs and Hinds County Judge Bobby DeLaughter. Add to that reports Trent Lott may be under federal scrutiny.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that former Republican Senator Lott is under investigation by federal agents. The newspaper article says the government is looking into whether Lott knowingly played a role in an alleged conspiracy to influence a Mississippi judge. Their report is attributed to "people familiar with the situation." The senior republican Senator unexpectedly resigned his senate post just two days before Scruggs was indicted in November. At the center of controversy, a lawsuit. William Wilson versus Dickie Scruggs. A fight over 16 million in asbestos legal fees. A special master recommended Scruggs pay up. But DeLaughter overruled that, instead ruled in favor of Scruggs...stating that nothing was owed Wilson, other than 1.5 million.

Indicted lawyer turned government witness, Timothy Balducci testified Wednesday that Scruggs had tried to use Lott to influence rulings made by DeLaughter. He said in turn,  ott would recommend Judge DeLaughter for a seat on the federal bench. Lott is not charged with any wrong doing. Neither is Judge DeLaughter. Balducci said (Wednesday) that Lott called DeLaughter on Scruggs' behalf. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Dawson said in court today that the DeLaughter case is under active investigation of the Public Integrity Division of the Justice Department in Washington D.S. "As we speak," said Dawson.

According to prosecutors,  Lott called DeLaughter March 29, 2006, which was between the January hiring of Ed Peters in the case and the August trial. Judge DeLaughter will reportedly be called to testify in the bribery trial along with Lott. So will Timothy Balducci and Joey Langston. Two attorneys who have copped pleas and are now government witnesses. We have also learned the lineup for potential witnesses may include Senator Thad Cochran and former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters.... Delaughter served as Assistant D.A. under Peters and is a trusted friend.

Scruggs, is linked to a bribe involving another Circuit Court Judge, Henry Lackey in Lafayette County. The alleged reward for Judge Lackey ...50-thousand cash. Pay money, the government claims; to deliver a 26 million dollar lawsuit in Scruggs favor.

During the hearing in Oxford Thursday, U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers denied the defense's request to throw out bribery charges and move the trial out of Mississippi. Scruggs his son Zach and Sidney Backstrom deny any wrongdoing.

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