Judge Bobby DeLaughter’s devolution into USA v DeLaughter began when Joey Langston punched his ticket to the best plea agreement ever by confessing to the crime of bribery-by-flattery of Judge Delaughter.
SLABBED reported on the benefit of Langston plea agreement when two of his alleged co-flatters reported to prison for their role in USA v Scruggs.
Langston was sentenced last December for a Jan. 15 report, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office got Judge Michael Mills to delay his imprisonment until March 16 so he could continue helping with some investigations. However, prosecutors apparently renewed their request, sources say, and asked the court to postpone Langston’s report a few more weeks to keep him close as he apparently continues to cooperate with their investigations into the DeLaughter case and perhaps others.
However, that post was written on March 23 and it also reported the absence of the standard Letter to Report in Langston’s case docket – notable because he should have reported seven days earlier on the 16th and, according to information on the docket tonight, he reported on the 16th of April – and that’s Loony Tunes because a few weeks ago the BOP inmate locator showed him in transit.
It’s also Loony Tunes that there was a Motion to postpone his reporting but no Order when the Daily Journal checked on the afternoon of the 16th of March or when I checked checked the 23rd; but, it’s on there now and dated the 11th of March with a note that the entries for both the Motion and the Order were modified on the 30th of March with no indication of how – and that’s when it struck me that Langston was popping up like Sylvester, the Loony Tunes cat.
Sufferin’ succotash, what Bobby DeLaughter is dealing with is not a cartoon but a five-count indictment.
Between the crunch and today’s Order granting DeLaughter a June 1 extension of the motion deadline, Judge DeLaughter replied to the USA’s reponse to his Motions.
The extension was requested in Defendant Delaughter’s Unopposed Motion to Hold in Abeyance Any Resolution of His Motion for Inspection of Grand Jury Minutes and for an Extension of Time to File His Rebuttal.
In light of certain positions taken by the government in its pleading with respect to production of the grand jury minutes, counsel for Defendant require time to investigate certain matters and to confer with government counsel as well as Defendant’s prior counsel. These matters cannot be accomplished in the allotted time of five business days for the reply under the Local Rules.
On April 14, 2009, undersigned counsel Durkin had a telephone conversation with AUSA Bob Norman concerning these issues and a meeting was scheduled in Oxford for Monday, April 27, 2009. In the same conversation, AUSA Norman stated to counsel that he could represent to the Court that the government has no objection to holding a resolution of the grand jury minutes motion in abeyance and extending the time within which Defendant files his reply or rebuttal.
Accordingly, counsel would request that the resolution of this motion be held in abeyance until counsel for the parties can meet and an appropriate reply or rebuttal be fashioned.
Judge Davidson issued an Order extending the deadline until the meeting on the 27th and further extended the deadline with the earlier reference Order issued today. The Clarion Ledger reported on the meeting held this past Monday:
Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who is under indictment in a federal bribery scandal, and his attorney met with U.S. attorneys behind closed doors Monday concerning a dispute over whether DeLaughter should be allowed to inspect grand jury minutes typically kept under seal.
DeLaughter’s attorney, Thomas Durkin of Chicago, would not comment about what was discussed at the meeting, but described it as “very productive.”
In a motion filed last month, Durkin said a federal judge should open the grand jury information because prosecutors possibly broke the law when asking a grand jury to indict DeLaughter.
Durkin’s motion said, “This very issue as to whether this charged conduct constitutes a federal crime rather than merely a ‘bad act,’ … presents the very real danger that the Grand Jury that returned this indictment was not properly instructed on the law, and that it indicted, instead, on improper bases.”
However, the U.S. attorney’s said DeLaughter’s allegations are a “fishing expedition,” and “nothing more than a ruse to discover details of the government’s evidence and preview the government’s case.”
But something in the government’s response prompted Durkin to call Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Norman and schedule a meeting to discuss possible grand jury issues, a court filing says. Durkin would not say what caused him to request the meeting…
In its responsive pleading to Defendant’s Motion For a Bill of Particulars, the government suggests that the motion is untimely in that “discovery is continuing and will continue to be supplemented for the foreseeable future.” While counsel for Defendant believe that some of the requests contained within the motion for a bill might well raise concerns with respect to Double Jeopardy, it seems appropriate to defer ruling on the motion at this time in light of the government’s suggestion that more discovery is forthcoming.
Further, as mentioned, with respect to Defendant’s motion with respect to the production of grand jury minutes, counsel are meeting with the government attorneys in Oxford on April 27, 2009. One of the issues to be addressed at that meeting is, in fact, Defendant’s formal discovery requests memorialized in a lengthy letter to the government dated March 24, 2009. Resolution of those discovery issues may well, as the government suggests, resolve some of the issues raised in the motion for a bill of particulars.
Therefore, counsel would request that the Court permit Defendant to withdraw his previously filed Motion for a Bill of Particulars, subject to his ability to re-file the motion upon completion of the discovery. AUSA Bob Norman has told counsel they can represent to the Court that the government has no objection to the granting of this relief.
Made even more interesting by the questions the 5th Circuit panel asked in their recent letter to counsel in Minor’s Appeal, the Combined Rebuttal in Support of Defendant DeLaughter’s Motions to Dismiss Counts One and Two Through Four for Failure to Charge an Offense confirms there is no consensus the USA’s position is correct:
The government’s struggle to describe the “thing of value” that Judge DeLaughter
allegedly agreed to receive signals a fatal flaw in its theory on Counts One through Four. If this case boils down to a judge who received ex parte contacts on one hand and a litigant who arranged a meaningless courtesy call on the other, there is no crime at all, much less a federal felony offense.
To have a federal crime, the government must have bribery – the exchange of (or
an agreement to exchange) official action for something of value. The indictment contains no such allegation, and the evidence will not establish such an exchange. The government cannot use allegations in its pleadings to bridge the gap between what the indictment actually alleges and what the indictment needs to allege to charge an offense. Counts One through Four must be dismissed.
The final reply filed by DeLaughter was a Rebuttal in Support of Defendant DeLaughter’s Motion for Pretrial Hearing Concerning Co-Conspirators’ Statements.
First and foremost, the government’s response completely ignores Judge DeLaughter’s well documented claim that the risk of mistrial in this case over the issue of co-conspirator declarations is substantial in light of the novelty and weakness of the government’s legal theories and evidence – which weakness was only magnified by the government’s quite revealing responses to the motions to dismiss conceding, among other things, that it was relying upon a mere negligence intent standard.
Instead, the government would have the court believe that this case poses no concern to depart from what it claims is the “prevailing practice in this district;” i.e., without citation – “to carry a James motion with the case, making the necessary findings at an appropriate juncture, during the course of the trial.” In that undersigned counsel, Durkin and Cline, do not know the prevailing practices in this district, and the government fails to cite any legal authority for the proposition, counsel will obviously defer to the sound discretion of the trial court in this instance as James and its progeny dictate.
If the trial court follows the district’s prevailing practices in matters with any connection to Dick Scruggs, the undersigned counsel may regret their decision. However, if Judge Davidson will find some common ground, perhaps these out-of-state attorneys won’t suggest, as others have, that a passport is needed to practice law in our State.
Count 5, the allegation Judge DeLaughter lied to the FBI when responding to questions about his relationship with Ed Peters, has been the subject of considerable conversation and spectulation but, thus far, not addressed in anything other than the indictment. The prevailing view seems to be this will be the most difficult at all for DeLaughter to overcome.
Interestingly, whether that view comes from someone who feels charges against DeLaughter are warrented or from his most ardent supporter whose trust in him is total, I’ve yet to hear or read about anyone expressing trust in Ed Peters.
On the outside looking in, the case against DeLaughter rests on the testimony of those who have profited at his expense, earning either money or some measure of their freedom.
Loony Tunes is when all the government can offer is a USA saying, I tawt I taw a puddy tat.