DeLaughter seeks witness statements for trial prep

OXFORD – Attorneys for Hinds Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter filed a flurry of legal motions late last week, one of which seeks “any and all” material from government witnesses.
In January, DeLaughter was indicted with former Oxford attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs in a scheme to corrupt the judge for favors in a legal-fees lawsuit against Scruggs.
Scruggs pleaded guilty a month later and had extra prison time added to his 2008 sentence for attempting to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey.
DeLaughter, who pleaded not guilty, is suspended from judicial responsibilities until the criminal proceedings conclude. He also is accused of lying to investigators.
He is set for trial Aug. 17 in Oxford.
In one of six motions filed Friday, DeLaughter’s attorneys apparently seek to sort through various inconsistencies by witnesses in publicized or non-public statements.
Drawn from sworn statements, remarks from former New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci and former state Auditor Steven Patterson – among the witnesses – reportedly contradict one another about the case.
And former Hinds District Attorney Ed Peters, for whom DeLaughter once worked, “denies outright the existence of this very charged conspiracy” in response to a civil lawsuit that virtually tracks the allegations, the documents say.
“The only consistency in these government witnesses’ stories in their lack of consistency,” writes DeLaughter attorney, Thomas A. Durkin of Chicago.
Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. David will decide whether the defense will get the statements, although U.S. law generally prohibits sharing statements by government witnesses until they have testified in court.
In five pre-trial motions, DeLaughter’s attorneys asked for a jury pool from throughout the Northern District of Mississippi and a proposed questionnaire for prospective jurors, as well as for disclosure of any evidence favorable to him, for any material related to prior bad acts and for more detailed information about claims made in the indictment.
One motion asks if Peters has been granted immunity from prosecution or extended other favors for his assistance.
It also seeks to know if the government has any other information about bribery, jury tampering or anything else like that by Scruggs, Balducci, former Booneville attorney Joey Langston, Scruggs’ son Zach and Patterson.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal