“Miz Lillian” and the Sun Herald on “bribe” Scruggs and others offered Judge Delaughter

A few years after Former president Jimmy Carter left office a woman reporter from Washington D. C. came to Plains, Georgia, to interview his mother Lillian Carter…[who] really didn’t want to be interviewed…[but]…when the reporter knocked at her door, Mrs. Carter invited her in. The reporter asked some hard questions and actually was rather aggressive, insensitive, pushy, and rude.

“I want to ask you a question,” she said. “Your son ran for the presidency on the premise that he would always tell the truth. Has he ever lied?”

Mrs. Carter said, “I think he’s truthful; I think you can depend on his word.” The reporter again asked if he had ever lied in his entire life.  His mother said, “Well, I guess maybe he’s told a little white lie.”

“Ah, see there!” the reporter exclaimed. “He’s lied! If he told a white lie, he has lied.” The reporter was still not satisfied and asked, “What is a white lie?”

To which Lillian Carter, now being the protective and wise mother said, “It’s like a moment ago when you knocked on the door and I went to the door and said I was glad to see you.”

Long one of my favorite stories, I’ve thought of it often as I’ve read about the “bribe” offered Judge Delaughter; and, it was the first thing that came to mind as I read Scruggs’s exploited judge’s ‘vulnerabilities’, Anita Lee’s story in the Sun Herald –  if you don’t count first thinking the computer linked me to the National Inquirer, not the front page of the Sun Herald (speaking of exploited).

To bribe Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter, Dickie Scruggs exploited two vulnerabilities, according to court records: DeLaughter’s close friendship to former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters and “his known ambition to become a federal judge.”

The Scruggs legal team’s strategy to bribe DeLaughter is outlined in court records filed with Scruggs’ guilty plea Wednesday in federal court to one count of mail fraud. Scruggs will serve seven years in prison. In exchange for the plea, U.S. Attorneys agreed not to indict Scruggs but have indicated others will be charged, partly due to his cooperation.

Booneville attorney Joey Langston already has pleaded guilty in the case. Peters, who received $1 million for influencing protege DeLaughter, is also believed to be cooperating with investigators.

Mention of Langton’s plea brings the word exploited to mind in light of Judge Bigger’s comment during USA v Scruggs, part 1.

Judge Biggers asked questions heading toward the fact that Joey Langston has pled guiltyto bribery relating to that- at one point saying that he hoped the government had facts to establish bribery, given that guilty plea.

Ms. Lee kindly linked the PDF: Scruggs plea bill of information and factual basis to her story; and, after reading it with great interest, I could only wonder what Judge Biggers thought about the government’s case – but, that’s enough wondering for now, so back to what we know from the article:

Langston and others represented Scruggs in an asbestos-fee dispute with attorney Roberts Wilson. A ruling in Wilson’s favor would have put at risk millions in tobacco fees Scruggs earned in the late 1990s. Wilson has contended he is owed a share of the tobacco fees because money he and Scruggs earned representing Coast asbestos victims was used to finance the tobacco litigation.

Scruggs and his team decided to bribe DeLaughter, the court records say. Scruggs contacted his brother-in-law, then-U.S. Senator Trent Lott, to recommend DeLaughter for a federal judgeship.

Prosecutors said they could prove at trial that Scruggs “contacted his brother-in-law, then a Unites States Senator from Mississippi, to recommend (DeLaughter) for consideration to a federal judgeship open in the Southern District of Mississippi. The circuit judge received the Senator’s call and knew that Scruggs had recommended him. The case was ultimately resolved in a favorable way to Mr. Scruggs.”

Is the government suggesting that it not possible for a resolution favorable to Scruggs to be the legally correct decision? Sop had some thoughts about that and posted them earlier today as comment on another blog.

…I’m interested to know your take on the basis DeLaughter has in saying he ruled according to the law and I haven’t seen a whole lot of blogging on that…

As Sop went on to point out, there are attorneys that believe DeLaughter ruled correctly – and, likely, some that suspect Wilson had benefit of such a “secret” advantage in at least one of the earlier decisions.

Neither DeLaughter nor Lott’s name were mentioned in the court records. Neither has been charged with a crime and prosecutors indicated no further involvement by Lott, who joined Sen. Thad Cochran in recommending Sul Ozerdon for the judgeship.

Other members of Scruggs’ team in the fee dispute were New Albany attorney Tim Balducci and non-lawyer Steve Patterson, a former state auditor. The court records say it was Patterson who recommended the attorneys contact Peters to try and sway DeLaughter.

God help us, if Patterson was suggesting nothing more than what “Miz Lillian” would call “a little white lie”.