October 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

Of all the sad aspects of the Scruggs saga, the one that most troubles me is the chain of events that led to the downfall of Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter. Up to now, what we have known of his culpability could be gleaned from his own guilty plea and from reading between the lines of other disclosures. Ed Peters’ involvement, and how he interacted with DeLaughter, has been left mostly to conjecture and street gossip.

Thanks to motions filed by Scruggs in federal court, however, Peters’ grand jury testimony, or a portion of it, has been unsealed, and you can read for yourself the sordid details. Tom Freeland has summarized it, and has another post about it. You can read Peters’ testimony for yourself here and here. Freeland followed up with another couple of posts that you can find on his blog.  

Philip Thomas has a post questioning why Peters has never been prosecuted in state court.

Some had considered DeLaughter a sort of wunderkind of the bench. They expected special things of him after he stepped out of the role as prosecutor of Byron De la Beckwith into a circuit judgeship. But he was a long-time associate of Ed Peters, the Hinds County DA, and he allowed himself to be in a position to be influenced by Peters. Peters took advantage of the cozy relationship to demand hefty fees from clients who expected him to influence the circuit judge. Peters’ testimony reveals how they did it. 

It still turns my stomach to read this stuff, but it’s important for us to know and understand how this unfolded so that we can take measures to ensure that it will never happen again.

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  • Anderson says:

    I suppose the natural question is, “what measures would those be?”

    Given the failure of our state authorities to investigate and prosecute in this matter, as well as the Mississippi Bar’s having relegated itself to sweeping up behind the feds, I see no reason not to fear that such practices are going on around the state.

    I certainly hope not, but considering the strange chain of circumstances required to expose DeLaughter, it’s not reasonable to assume that similar schemes would be easily discovered.

    • Larry says:

      Fair question.

      I don’t have an idea as to what measures, other than greater vigilence and sure punishment.

      A couple of comments:

      “Sweeping up behind the feds …” In a case such as this the Supreme Court has to await conviction unless the Judicial Performance investigation has turned up sufficient evidence to sustain a finding that warrants removal. Here, the facts were in control of the federal investigators.

      “No reason not to fear …” and ” … similar schemes …” I hope and pray that you’re wrong, but the whole, sad Scruggs saga showed that it is Pollyanna-ish to assume that such things do not happen here.

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