Judge Denies Motions to Dismiss in Miss. Judicial Corruption Case

Judge Davidson of the Northern District of Mississippi denied Circuit Judge Bobby Delaughter’s Motions to Dismiss the judicial bribery and mail fraud counts in the Dickie Scruggs related judicial bribery prosecution. Count One charges a conspiracy to violate 18 U.S.C. § 666, the federal bribery statute. The defense alleged that Count One failed to charge an offense because the bait dangled in front of Judge Delaughter, consideration for a federal judgeship, is not a thing of value. Giving short shrift to the motion to dismiss as more akin to a civil motion for summary judgment, Judge Davidson, opines that the government is entitled to put their proof on at trial.

As to the mail fraud counts, the defense contended that they failed because an ex parte communication does not equal a federal crime. Judge Davidson, states that, in fact, the indictment, “alleges that DeLaughter afforded the Scruggs’ legal team secret access to the court, along with the court’s proposed opinions, and therefore, received an unfair advantage in the Wilson v. Scruggs litigation.” Of course, this just simply makes sense, and the defense’s attempt to minimize this conduct will blow up on them if they take this case to trial. And, quite frankly, it is almost inconceivable that any fair minded judge could argue with a straight face that unfettered, ex parte access to the judge, in what is supposed to be an adversary system is not a violation of honest services mail fraud. Couch it as they may, Judge Delaughter’s counsel are straining at gnats in attemmpting to put the broad brush of innocence on this conduct.

Mississippi Judge Contends There Was No Crime

Judge Delaughter, currently under indictment in the Northern District of Mississippi has filed his reply brief in which he contends that the government has failed to allege a crime. His attorneys pick up on our point here, that the government’s response does not address several of the points raised in his original motion to dismiss. At bottom, Delaughter’s reply raises two interesting points: first, that ex parte contacts combined with a phone call from Senator Lott to tell Judge Delaughter that he was under “consideration for” a federal judgeship does not amount to a “thing of value and second, that it there is no “knew or should have known” standard in federal criminal cases. My take, the defense prevails on the second point - there is no “should have known” standard in federal criminal law. That is a negligence standard applied to civil negligence cases. The AP has a good discussion here from the Mississippi Clarion Ledger.