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Corruption Chronicles

Jailed Judge’s Pardon Plea: “All He Did Was Lie”

A Mississippi judge famous for convicting a white supremacist as a prosecutor just reported to jail for obstructing justice and already civil rights leaders are demanding a presidential pardon, claiming that “all he did was lie.”

Robert DeLaughter, who earned acclaim for prosecuting a white supremacist in a civil rights-era murder, pleaded guilty last August for his role in a bribery scandal. The popular Hinds County circuit judge had been indicted with five felonies—including bribery and conspiracy—but the plea deal dropped the four more serious charges, which involved exchanging favorable rulings for consideration to the federal bench.

A millionaire attorney (Richard Scruggs) in prison for bribing two judges influenced DeLaughter by promising help in getting a federal appointment through his brother-in-law who at the time was Republican U.S. Senator (Trent Lott). DeLaughter presided over a multi million-dollar asbestos fee dispute between Scruggs and a former associate when he was bribed and his ruling saved Scruggs $15 million.

The corrupt judge repeatedly lied to FBI investigators about his role in the bribery scheme and confidently demanded the charges against him be dropped because he never received anything of value but rather a “meaningless courtesy call” from the lawmaker who tried to influence him.

That script didn’t quite pan out, however. This week DeLaughter reported to a Kentucky prison to serve his 18-month sentence. Hours later, renowned civil rights leader Charles Evers announced his plan to ask President Obama to pardon the crooked judge because he did what all men do; lie. "What man can tell me he hasn’t lied?" Evers asked. "You’re telling me he should spend 18 months in prison for that?” 

Evers’s brother, Medgar Evers, was murdered in 1963 by the white supremacist that DeLaughter eventually prosecuted in mid 1990s. Medgar was field secretary for the Mississippi National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) when he was killed and the case was later turned into a Hollywood movie (The Ghosts of Mississippi). 


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