I’ll keep this post on top throughout the day and update it with news as I hear of it and have time to post it.
— Joey Langston turned himself in at the U.S. Attorney’s Office this morning, says this breaking story by Patsy Brumfield and Errol Castens in the Daily Journal.
UPDATE: I’ve had a chance to pull all the current entries on the docket in USA v. Langston from PACER, and have reorganized them from the way I originally had them and relisted them below so they are easy to access.
SECOND UPDATE: Langston’s plea agreement.
Here is Zach Scruggs’ waiver of conflict letter that states Tony Farese can represent both him and Joey Langston. Again, more later.
Here is a copy of Joey Langston’s waiver of conflict letter (you need one from each client).
Here is a copy of the minute order of the hearing January 7 where Langston entered his plea agreement before Judge Michael Mills.
THIRD UPDATE: As you can see, in the plea agreement Langston pleads guilty to conspiracy to corruptly influence an elected state official, which maximum penalties of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release, but the agreement is that the sentence will not exceed three years. He will not face forfeiture of his share of the $3 million of Scruggs "savings" he split in the Wilson case. He allegedly split the money with Steve Patterson and "a close personal friend" of the judge who was supposed to influence Judge DeLaughter’s decision in the case, allegedly acting on behalf of Dickie Scruggs. Generous of the feds, don’t you think? I wonder what this means. Does it mean their analysis is Judge DeLaughter was not actually influenced, despite that being the goal of the conspiracy? I don’t know much about what the government can do as far as confiscating money and holding it in trust, say, while Wilson and his attorneys sue to get it back. They always have the option to sue Langston anyway, among others.
If the allegations concerning Scruggs and others are true, and if the influence was actually not effective, then these interpretations are possible of the allegations in the charges against Langston: (a) he ripped off Scruggs for a big split that was not deserved; (b) Langston didn’t know the influence was ineffective, thought the conspiracy achieved its goals and that he deserved the split; (c) it didn’t matter to Scruggs whether the money was deserved or not, he got a much bigger windfall than the $3 million that was split among the three alleged co-conspirators, and better safe than sorry, a fair day’s pay for an unfair day’s work.
FOURTH UPDATE: Great question in the comments about whether the Wilson judgment can be reopened. Here’s a pdf of Mississippi Rule of Civil Procedure 60 to follow along with. Can the judgment be overturned? The rule has provisions for reopening old judgments for fraud and other reasons. Now that I’ve had more time to look this over and think about it, the answer depends on whether there is evidence that Judge DeLaughter was actually influenced. We know from Langston’s plea there was a conspiracy to do so, but if a conspiracy is ineffective, or for some reasons the conspirators didn’t follow through, then the fraud really was on Scruggs, whom the government alleges put them up to it on his behalf. If a conspiracy to corrupt a process doesn’t actually achieve its aims or result in a corruption of the process, it seems to me the judgment is hard to overturn. But those are just preliminary thoughts.
FIFTH UPDATE: Here’s a Jerry Mitchell story in the Clarion Ledger about the efforts of Scruggs’ attorneys to keep him from having to testify in the Jones v. Scruggs lawsuit, the one the bribery indictments arose out of. The hearing on the request is today.
SIXTH UPDATE: Check out this Daily Journal story, says John Jones’ lawyer, Grady Tollison, said in the Jones v. Scruggs hearing today that Judge Lackey, the target of the alleged Scruggs bribery conspiracy, is the one who came up with the $40,000 bribe figure as part of an FBI sting. Guess they were trying to figure out an amount that the alleged conspirators would for sure jump at. Not too far out of line with the $50,000 allegedly paid to Ed Peters to influence the decision in Wilson, although I’m sure they didn’t know at the time how shrewdly they pegged the market. These FBI guys and Lackey that came up with that $40,000 figure, which apparently was just right in that sweet spot for the bribe market, man, I want these guys to be picking my sports bets. Might have been just a little low considering a judge should be worth more than a judge’s best friend, but hey, aren’t we all Monday morning quarterbacks when it comes to what you should and should not have done in setting the amount of a bribe in sting operations? I hate it when someone second guesses the amount I set for a bribe, so I’m not going to do that to others.
SEVENTH UPDATE: Steve Patterson has pleaded guilty. Here’s the plea agreement. Says January 10 is the date, and that’s where they put it in the PACER docket today, behind the stuff filed on Friday, but it wasn’t there yesterday, I can assure you of that, must have checked five times for new activity.
EIGHTH UPDATE: This Clarion Ledger story says the judge in the Jones v. Scruggs case quashed the subpoenas to make Scruggs testify in the case. Question: why? The story doesn’t say. Also, and I’ve seen this before in this paper, in referring to the Wilson case it says "both sides settled the case." You know, I hate it when only my side settles the case and the other side keeps litigating against us, it makes life so difficult.
NINTH UPDATE: Here is a statement from the Mississippi Bar about these crazy events. An excerpt:
[Bar President Bobby] Bailess continued, “The actions of these few lawyers are not reflective of the vast majority of the over 6,700 lawyers in Mississippi who each day serve their clients and communities with honesty, integrity and competence.”
Bailess concluded by saying, “While The Mississippi Bar is not directly involved in criminal proceedings, the Bar will swiftly deal with those who have pled guilty. With regard to those accused of wrongdoing, the Bar will follow normal disciplinary procedures while allowing the criminal justice system to work.”
The Mississippi Bar’s General Counsel, Adam Kilgore, added, “The Mississippi Bar takes very seriously its roll as a designated disciplinary agency of the Supreme Court of Mississippi. The attorney discipline process is regulated by the
Rules of Discipline for the Mississippi State Bar, as set forth by the Supreme Court of Mississippi. Under Rule 15 of those rules, the Bar’s Office of General Counsel is prohibited from discussing specific cases until such time as they become public record by way of the attorney discipline process.”
TENTH UPDATE: Hood speaks, doesn’t say much. Story by John O’Brien of Legal Newsline.