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.
October 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
This from Tom Freeland’s NMissCommentor Blog …
A retirement party for Hon. Henry Lackey, Circuit Judge of the Third Circuit Court District is being held by the Third Circuit Bar in Oxford on November 4th at the Oxford Conference Center. I’m one of the lawyers collecting contributions toward this dinner, which will also include a retirement gift to Judge Lackey.
Please send any contributions you are willing to make with the check made out to:
Judge Lackey Retirement Party Fund
Send them to me at:
Oxford, MS 38655
If you send a check, it would be useful to my effort to keep track of donations if you sent me an email telling me you did and how much it was. Send the email to tom (at) freelandlawfirm.com
Invitations to this event will be sent out later this month to members of the Third Circuit Bar and to judges all over the state; if you wish to attend the event and aren’t in the counties of the Third Circuit, send me an email to the address just mentioned and I will see that the information gets to the appropriate person.
I don’t know how many Twelfth District lawyers have had the privilege to know or practice before Judge Lackey. If you do know him or tried cases in his court, you may want to try to make the event or send a contribution.
I met Judge Lackey back in the 1980’s at a CLE program in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I had recently finished trying a case before Chancellor Woodrow Brand, sitting as Special Chancellor in Meridian in a trial involving lots of money and a world-renowned manufacturer. At the conclusion of the trial Judge Brand complimented the attorneys on a job well done and took the case under advisement. When he heard that, Judge Lackey raised his bushy eyebrows and remarked with humor and some irony that that sort of compliment was something that lawyers in Judge Brand’s district were simply not accustomed to. We laughed together and swapped tales about practice in our different parts of the state. He knew some Meridian lawyers and judges and asked about them. He was kind, soft-spoken, attentive and humorous, and I enjoyed the little time I spent with him — so much so that I remembered it down through the years.
I ran into Judge Lackey last year at a Judges’ meeting in Tunica, and he remembered the New Orleans seminar and was kind enough to say that he did remember sitting next to me and visiting. He reminded me that there had been an ice storm that Sunday that closed the bridges out of the city so that he and his wife were stranded there an extra day. I had forgotten that. My wife and I had made it out of the city an hour before the bridges were closed.
If Judge Lackey’s long service as a lawyer and as a Circuit Judge were all he accomplished in his career, he would be remembered as a successful public servant. His role in the Scruggs scandal, however, in which he hewed strictly to judicial and legal ethics, and would not deviate an inch from the proper path, elevates him to a higher level of esteem. Not because he did what professional standards required of him, but because of his courage in facing down the beast and bringing it to destruction.
Judge Lackey is a beacon of right shining through the ashy pall that Scruggs and his minions cast over the legal profession and the judiciary. For that let us ever remember him and esteem his memory.
God bless you in your retirement, Judge Lackey.