Stanford judge to preside over Scruggs lawsuit

OXFORD – W. Roberts Wilson’s legal pursuit of former attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs has moved to a Texas judge.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edith H. Jones on Friday ordered Judge David Hittner of Texas’ Southern District in Houston to preside over Wilson’s lawsuit against Scruggs and his pursuit of money once belonging to former District Attorney Ed Peters.
The order was posted for public view Monday.
Judge Hittner also is presiding over criminal allegations against disgraced financier R. Allen Stanford, his former Chief Investment Officer Laura Pendergest-Holt of Baldwyn and others.
Across the two years of the Scruggs investigation into alleged bribery and bribery attempts of two state circuit court judges, virtually all of the judges in Mississippi’s Northern District have presided or excused themselves because of conflicts surrounding the cases.
The last available Mississippi judge for the Wilson civil lawsuit was W. Allen Pepper Jr. of Greenville, but he may have taken himself out, unofficially, because he was a college roommate of former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, likely to be a witness in a trial.
The actions affected by Jones’ decision are:
– The Wilson v. Scruggs lawsuit demanding millions of dollars from Scruggs and others, who Wilson says did not pay him what he was owed for participation in national asbestos litigation. He also wants payment for the money he says was his but was bankrolled into other lucrative fees-yielding cases.
– A forfeit of $425,000 by Peters as what’s left of the $1 million former Booneville attorney Joey Langston paid him for helping influence now-former Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter with the original Hinds County lawsuit, Wilson v. Scruggs.
Wilson’s attorney, Charles Merkel, said the case will not physically move to Texas, but Hittner will come to Mississippi when necessary.
Most recently, the Wilson lawsuit was before Judge Sharion Aycock, but she recused herself because her chief deputy once worked for a firm that had represented Wilson.
Earlier, Senior Judge Neal Biggers Jr. took himself off the case when he said he had other Scruggs-related issues before him. Biggers presided over the criminal case in which Scruggs and four others pleaded guilty to varying roles in the attempted bribery of Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.
Senior Judge Glen H. Davidson presides over the Scruggs-DeLaughter bribery case. DeLaughter, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, insists he was not bribed.
And Chief Judge Michael P. Mills of Oxford presided over the criminal case against Langston.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal