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12-21-07: DeLaughter comes clean(er) with the FBI

You might want to read this chronology before reading this post.  You also probably should read about DeLaughter’s first FBI interview.

DeLaughter’s second FBI interview memo closes with passages that makes me wonder, again, why this was placed in evidence by the Scruggs team:

At the time, DELAUGHTER did not think that PETERS’ and LANGSTON’s help to receive judgeship position was influencing, but looking back upon it now, he believes that PETERS and LANGSTON did attempt to influence him.  [Although, he expressly denied he was influenced by Peters.]  DELAUGHTER agreed that a federal judgeship is a thing of value.

After saying he ruled based on the law, and not according to Peters’s influence, he says this:

However, DELAUGHTER did state that he was glad this case did not go to trial because he probably would have sided with PETERS on the “gray” matters of the case.

This does not seem to help advance Scruggs’s side.

Perhaps it was placed in evidence because it contains a little misleading timing switch that later gets straightened out:

After the trial was over, DELAUGHTER telephone SCRUGGS and asked for his help in getting a federal judgeship position. SCRUGGS said that he would help, but it was not related to the favorable outcome of the case.

Just to be clear about that relationship.  Or lack of one.

I’m going to say right now that I never liked and have grown very weary of the word “judgeship” and would note to readers that I have found all kinds of ways to avoid using it other than in direct quotes.

The memo is a long one.  After describing his career, his relationship to Kirksey and Peters, and some history of the Wilson case, he described the contact by Peters:

Just before SCRUGGS filed a motion for partial summary judgment, DELAUGHTER was contacted by PETERS. PETERS told him that he had been contacted by LANGSTON.  PETERS told him that LANGSTON was going to represent SCRUGGS.  SCRUGGS was not happy with DUNBAR and that LANGSTON was taking over the representation.  PETERS asked DELAUGHTER how WILSON’S attorney, KIRKSEY was going to affect his rulings in the case.  DELAUGHTER told PETERS that KIRKSEY’S involvement would not affect him at all.  PETERS said he would tell LANGSTON that DELAUGHTER will not be influenced by KIRSKEY.  PETERS told him that he is helping LANGSTON and may become more involved in the case at a later date.  However, Peters never did enter an appearance in the case.

Once DELAUGHTER was contacted by PETERS about the SCRUGGS/WILSON matter, their communication increased.  Most of the communication was by telephone.  He stated that he talked to PETERS on more than three occasions as he had indicated to two female FBI Special Agents.  He did not purposefully mislead them.

What a misunderstanding!

I thought for a moment about the significance of the FBI agents being females.  Is he suggesting they used their feminine wiles upon him?

In January of 2006, before DELAUGHTER ruled upon a motion that involved fiduciary duty, PETERS called him again. PETERS told him that LANGSTON could help him get the United States Magistrate position that was open in the United States Federal Court, Southern DIstrict of Mississippi.  DELAUGHTER did not see how they could help because magistrates are screened by a committee.  DELAUGHTER told PETERS that their help would be fine, but that there would be no “quid pro quo.”  PETERS did pass this message to LANGSTON.

It’s fascinating how denials of a quid pro quo became a regular recital in conversations with or about this judge, the way some lawyers say “May it please the court.”

DeLaughter noted that the magistrate position was filled, and then a district judge slot came open. Peters told DeLaughter about motions Langston was filing and brought advanced copies for DeLaughter to review.  Peters did not ask for modifications to the motions from DeLaughter

DELAUGHTER stated that it was not normal business practice to see an advance copy of motions.

I suppose that’s a relief, if true.

DELAUGHTER only did it because he was asked to by PETERS.

He claimed to not remember making suggestions on the advance copies, but did send a draft opinion to Peters on the Scruggs partial summary judgment motion.

DeLaughter then described a visit from Chip Reynolds, who worked for Lott.  DeLaughter brought up the judicial position, and Reynolds said he needed to send a letter and resume to both senators.  The Scruggs side will argue that this shows that DeLaughter knew that convincing Lott was not enough.  This was discussed by Reynolds in his brief testimony after lunch in the first day of the hearing this week.

Peters called DeLaughter later in March and said “to expect a telephone call from Senator LOTT.”  Peters had made some calls to tell people of DeLaughter’s interest in becoming a federal judge, and Patterson had told Peters he needed to tell both Mississippi senators he was interested.  DeLaughter called Senator Cochran and tried to call Senator Lott.

On March 28th or 29th of 2006, DELAUGHTER did receive a telephone call from Senator LOTT. LOTT said, “My no good brother in law, Dickie, is here and said that you are a fine judge.”

Every account has Scruggs making this contact by telephone, not being physically with Lott.

LOTT asked him if he was interest in being a United States District Court Judge.  He said that he was interested.  LOTT states that he could make no promises.

The statement closes with DeLaughter’s view of the punitive damages issue in the case, an issue not related to the Scruggs II trial (although it’s an issue worth sorting through for anyone wanting to fully understand this mess.

Here’s the second DeLaughter interview memo.

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