Opening statements began at 10 a.m. this morning at the Federal Courthouse in Oxford in the case of Richard “Dickie” Scruggs v. USA. Scruggs, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence in prison for two judicial bribery cases, is seeking to vacate the second of those convictions.
Scruggs is claiming he is actually innocent of the charge he pleaded guilty to before Senior Judge Glen Davidson three years ago based on a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last year in the case U.S. v. Skilling.
Prosecutors say Scruggs used his relationship with retired Sen. Trent Lott to influence then-Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter for favorable rulings in a lawsuit against him.
Prosecutor Bob Norman stated “DeLaughter had two weaknesses, one being his relationship with his mentor and friend, Ed Peters and the other his thirst for becoming a federal judge.”
Lott testified for about an hour this morning. He told the court he did in fact call DeLaughter after Scruggs had contacted him and asked Lott to call DeLaughter to explain the process of how a federal court judgeship is appointed. However, Lott said he never told DeLaughter he was under consideration for the position and only explained the process to him. Lott also testified that Scruggs never asked him to consider DeLaughter and that he was never aware that Scruggs had a case before DeLaughter at the time.
Davidson broke for lunch at 11:45. Testimony will continue at 1:15 this afternoon.
(March 26, 2012)