Tuesday, July 14, 2009

DeLaughter defense taking shape

In today's Clarion-Ledger, Jerry Mitchell writes a long-ish story on DeLaughter's Friday motion blitz. The most important phrase in the entire article is a quote from one of the motions:

Durkin, however, said Friday in court records that "Peters may well have conned Scruggs"...

Ladies and gents, the defense you're going to see at trial next month is this:

Ed Peters knew DeLaughter very well. So well, in fact, that DeLaughter went to him for advice sometimes on complex cases. DeLaughter thought Peters was treating these conversations as confidential. DeLaughter had no idea that Peters was sharing info with Scruggs & Co. on this matter. (Here's where the Ed Peters con of Scruggs comes in.) Furthermore, Peters knew DeLaughter wanted the federal judgeship, and that Scruggs might hold sway with Lott on that issue. So Peters offers up his services as intermediary to Scruggs & Co., telling them that DeLaughter would sell his rulings in exchange for the judgeship. Scruggs & Co. think they've got themselves a heck of a deal. Meanwhile, Peters never indicates to DeLaughter that he's involved in the case. Peters merely asks DeLaughter about it, and DeLaughter reaches out to Peters for his thoughts on decisions. He also asks him to proof drafts of orders. Peters, meanwhile, tells Scruggs & Co. that DeLaughter's their puppet.

I'm not passing judgment on this defense, but it's what was behind my musings that Ed Peters may "fall apart" on the stand. Ed may be singing to this tune come August.



Anonymous said...

Please explain the proper process to me. Who is supposed to draft scheduling orders, the attorney or the judge? In his testimony, Balducci says HE drafted the order which he sent to Delaughter and Delaughter entered it "as written". But the Feds are saying Delaughter emailed an advance copy of the order to Peters who, in turn, delivered it to Balducci (or Langston?). If Balducci did, in fact, draft the order, is that improper or unusual? And, is it improper, or unusual for Delaughter to accept such a draft and enter it "as written"? I can't imagine that a judge is expected to sit in court all day then go home and spend all night drafting orders for the cases he heard that day. Surely, that's not the way it works. Please explain so we lay people can better understand the allegations. Thanks.

Jim Craig said...

It's permissible for a lawyer to write a proposed order and send it to a judge. It's even ok for the judge to ask one of the lawyers to write the order. In fact, that commonly happens after a hearing -- the judge says, "I rule for Anonymous' client on this. Anonymous, please write the order granting your motion."

If that happens, though, the rule requires that the lawyer for the other party be given a copy of the proposed order before the court signs it.

Matt Eichelberger said...

Anonymous, Jim's dead on. Scheduling orders, though, tend to be formulaic, and at times come from the court sua sponte, meaning without motion from either party. DeLaughter's defense could be that Ed said "why don't you just give 'em 30 days for X, 90 days for Y, and 120 days for Z," and that DeLaughter thought nothing of it. We'll see. I know Roberts Wilson felt like the scheduling order was rough on him, so it may appear to be very biased. If so, that's bad for DeLaughter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation. Please indulge me further, if you don't ming. If Wilson felt the scheduling order was "hard on him" at the time it was issued (rather than a couple of years later after it becomes a news item) couldn't he have petitioned Delaughter for a different schedule?

If Balducci wrote the order, as he claims, how would Delaughter know whether Wilson had received a copy before he signed it? Is there some formality associated with that? In other words, is it reasonable that Delaughter could have simply assumed Balducci provided a copy to Wilson?

Kingfish said...

Peters fall apart?

I've got a stack of stories from the 70's and 80's where guys like you made the same predictions and Peters did just fine every time.

Jim Craig said...

Well, by those standards, Peters will "do fine" this time too. He walks, and he returns only half of the $1M he was paid. The question is, will he withstand cross-examination as a Government witness?

Kingfish said...

Peters will probably barbecue the cross-examiner.

The story waiting to be told is how someone as brilliant and gifted as Peters wasted his life on being a crook when he had the talent to be so much higher. Yeah he made alot of money but he still wasted his intellect.

Robert Marie said...

The drafted orders were only one aspect of this matter. Wondering what percentage of this case rest on the deprivation of service allegation/s. With all the talk of past rodeo events. There could be more in response from the gov. Wasn't that the 404, request of the defense. Additionally barring speculation, if Peters is as bright as described he should make a reasonable witness.

nmisscommenter said...

Kingfish, I think the suggestion here is that Peters may fall apart on purpose, helping DeLaughter.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to swallow that Delaughter would look to Peters on complex civil issues for advice. The civil arena was not Peters' forte at all. That suggestion would be difficult to sell

Alan @ YallPolitics said...

If events happened as you suggest (that Peters was merely a confidential sounding board for DeLaughter) and that DeLaughter never knew Peters was sharing that info with Scruggs & Co., they would NEVER have granted him immunity for that testimony.


Jim Craig said...

Alan, your comment is surprisingly naive. You assume:

1. That Peters testified to the grand jury about what REALLY happened, as opposed to his self-serving "spin" on the events; and

2. That the prosecutors wanted to know what REALLY happened, instead of what they wanted to prove.

Those two assumptions could be true, but they are far from necessarily true.

Alan @ YallPolitics said...


Your ability to ignore the history in this case is laudible.

Here are the facts.

The USA's office is batting a thousand with regards to everything they've done in this case. Everyone, so far, has pleaded guilty because they were. Scruggs in fact did it twice. Their data has been bulletproof. I doubt they would have indicted DeLaughter and taken Peters in as they did if (1) they didn't button him up completely as to what he would say and how he would say it and (2) put him through a polygraph to verify and (3) had other corroborating evidence (paperwork, notes of calls/meetings, etc.). If Peters goes off the ranch and materially doesn't deliver, it will likely result in his own ass being hung in a sling by the Feds.

Again, at the end of the day, regardless of the high-brow legal wrangling over honest services or DeLaughter justifying that he "made the proper legal decision", he will face the testimony of three or four people saying that he's absolutely guilty of what he's been accused. I doubt Langston or Scruggs in particular want to see the opportunity for their sentences being reduced go away for not doing their dead-level best to close the deal on DeLaughter.

Jim Craig said...

You will have to forgive me, Alan, for wanting to forget the detailed history of a case in which I was involved. And I allow that I may not be objective, for that reason and also because my respect for Judge DeLaughter makes it very difficult for me to believe the allegations of the current case.

However, the fact remains that in the criminal prosecution arising from the Jones v Scruggs case, the Government had extensive tape recordings to support its witnesses. It doesn't appear they have those in the case against Judge DeLaughter.

Alan @ YallPolitics said...

I hate to say I told you so . . . Wait, no I don't.

This deal with DeLaughter was bad news for the start. A lot of people wanted so badly to believe he didn't do it, but he did.

Kudos again to the USA's office in the northern district for batting 1.000 against corrupt judges and lawyers.

nmisscommenter said...

I think Ed Peters complicates your batting 1.000 calculation, Alan.

You were in the end right that it ended up a plea. The story is who folded, and that may become evident when we see the plea agreement.

Alan @ YallPolitics said...

An intentional walk (and it was more like a hit batter) doesn't technically count as an at-bat. From my seat on the bench, the Feds batting average remains at 1.000.

And remember, they did collect $425K in ill-gotten gains from Peters.

The real question is, who's next up to bat?

Matt Eichelberger said...

Alan, you were dead on that it ended up a plea. I didn't believe DeLaughter would ever plead to something that took his license. But, that's what's going to happen. NMC's right though: you ain't gonna be all that happy with the terms deal, I don't think.

I honestly hope the Feds aren't done with Peters. But for the moment, it looks that way.