Judge in former Scruggs fee case receives grand jury subpoena

UPDATE: Numerous readers have informed me that the description of the attorneys in the Luckey and Wilson cases is in error.  Jack Dunbar was original lead counsel in Luckey and Wilson. Dunbar brought Johnny Jones in specifically to handle the plantiffs constructive trust claims related to the tobacco money.  Jones wound up working on everything in the cases and Steve Funderburg was also pulled into the cases because of the immense workload.  Joey Langston and Tim Balducci were involved in Luckey but not really in the Wilson case until special master Bobby Snead issued his recommendations.  At that point, Scruggs removed Dunbar as lead counsel and brought in Langston and Balducci on the Wilson case. Balducci and Funderburg drafted the proceedings and briefs although Langston would be lead counsel at trial.  Jones was no longer participating at that time because he was working full time on Katrina cases. 

So to clarify, Balducci and Langstons involvement in the Luckey case began in January 2004-the trial was held in June 2005.  Following Luckeys $17.5 million victory in the summer of 2005, Langston and Balducci got involved in the Wilson case for the last ninety days before the trial.

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This story by Jerry Mitchell in the Clarion-Ledger today says Judge Robert DeLaughter, who presided over the Wilson fee dispute case involving Dickie Scruggs several years ago, has received a grand jury subpoena in an investigation into potential judicial bribery.  I have heard many, many good things about Judge DeLaughter from lawyers in Mississippi.  In a prior story, DeLaughter told Mitchell he did not take a bribe.

One would assume that the investigation at this point is shaped to a large degree by information from Tim Balducci, whose plea agreement requires him to give truthful information or lose the benefit of the agreement, but even if Balducci didnt supply information on the case, it might come in for scrutiny because DeLaughter rejected a special masters finding that Scruggs opponent  was owed $15 million, and he settled for an amount that is undisclosed but appears likely to be peanuts.  In a similar fee dispute case in federal court in the same time period, the Luckey case, Scruggs was ordered to pay $17 million. Interestingly, Balducci was Scruggs attorney in the Luckey case but not in the Wilson case — his lawyers in that action were Johnny Jones and Steve Funderburg, who are suing Scruggs now in a fee dispute over division of Katrina settlement money.    

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