ABERDEEN – Bobby DeLaughter, once hailed as a hero prosecutor, will go to jail for lying during an FBI investigation into whether he was bribed or not.
Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson today sentenced the 54-year-old former jurist to 18 months in a federal prison.
He’ll turn himself in Jan. 4th to a yet-undetermined facility.
DeLaughter maintains he was not bribed. But co-defendant, Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, months ago pleaded guilty that he conspired to do so for DeLaughter’s help with the legal-fees lawsuit, Wilson v. Scruggs.
Coincidentally, the lawsuit’s lead attorney confirmed Thursday settlement of his client’s multi-million-dollar claims against Scruggs, his son Zach and several companies in their names.
The 1994 lawsuit, filed in two other incarnations through the years, accused Scruggs of reneging on legal fees then-Jackson attorney W. Roberts Wilson Jr. said he was owed for work on national asbestos litigation.
By 2009, the case had snowballed into a mega treasure-chest of damages demanded as Wilson insisted Scruggs used Wilson’s owed fees and bankrolled the national tobacco case, which yielded $1.43 billion in attorney fees.
The high point of DeLaughter’s time as an assistant district attorney came in 1994 when he successfully prosecuted Byron de la Beckwith for the 1963 murder of civil right leader Medgar Evers. He became a circuit judge in Hinds County in 2002.
He wrote a book about the experience, and a movie, “Ghosts of Mississippi,” portrayed the trial with actor Alec Baldwin as DeLaughter.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will decide in a few weeks where DeLaughter will serve his sentence. He’ll be on supervised probation for a period of years after his release.
The day he pleaded guilty, he resigned his judgeship and turned in his license to practice law.
Read the NEMS Daily Journal Saturday for more on this story.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal