Friday, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Edith H. Jones ordered Wilson's lawsuit against Scruggs and his pursuit of money once belonging to former District Attorney Ed Peters to be presided over by Judge David Hittner of Texas' Southern District. The order was not posted for public view until today.
Hittner also presides over criminal allegations against disgraced financier R. Allen Stanford, his former Chief Investment Officer Laura Pendergest-Holt of Baldwyn and others.
While Jones did not state, in her order, why she chose Hittner, the appeals court apparently had to choose some other jurisdiction besides Northern Mississippi because nearly all its judges either presided over other Scruggs-related cases or asked not to preside for other reasons.
Recently, Wilson's lawsuit against Scruggs – asking for millions of dollars in allegedly owed legal fees and penalties – lost Judge Sharion Aycock, who recused herself because her chief deputy had once worked for a firm, which once 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 also 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, in which Scruggs admitted he bribed then-Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter of Hinds County.
The only other Northern judges left were Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. in Greenville and Chief Judge Michael P. Mills of Oxford, who presided over the criminal case against former Booneville Joey Langston, implicated in the same case with Peters in Scruggs' alleged bribery of DeLaughter.
DeLaughter, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, insists he was not bribed.
It wasn't immediately clear why Pepper was not assigned the case after Aycock's departure. But Pepper may not be on the list because he was a barbershop singing group member with and college roommate of former U.S. Sen Trent Lott, a likely witness in any Wilson v. Scruggs trial.
Wilson's attorney, Charles Merkel, said the case will not physically move to Texas, but Hittner will come to Mississippi when necessary.
Come back to NEMS360.com or read Tuesday's Daily Journal for more details.