Merrida Coxwell, Managing Partner of Coxwell & Associates was recently interviewed on CNN concerning the Judicial Bribery case that involved Bobby Delaughter. Bobby Delaughter was a Hinds County Circuit Court Judge who recently resigned and pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. He started serving a Federal Prison Sentence this month. Judge Delaughter started his career as a criminal defense lawyer and worked with the renowned Jackson lawyer, Alvin Binder. Later Bobby Delaughter went to work for Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters and both of them prosecuted the case of Byron De La Beckwith for the 1964 killing of Medgar Evers. A Hollywood movie was made from the case. Merrida Coxwell and Jim Kitchens defended Mr. Beckwith during the prosecution.
Bobby Delaughter and Ed Peters were investigated for allegations of bribery in several legal cases in Mississippi. Ed Peters became a Federal cooperating witness and gave evidence against his former friend and employee Bobby Delaughter. Ed Peters, who was involved up to his elbows with wrongdoing, has gotten off without any punishment. Bobby Delaughter, who lied to the F.B.I. about talking with Ed Peters, received an 18 month sentence for his crime. Many people in the legal community believe Bobby Delaughter got off too light and that his crimes go much deeper then just lying to the F.B.I.
There have been several people calling for a pardon for Bobby Delaughter and praising his past work. I understand their feeling but a pardon would be inappropriate for Bobby Delaughter. Bobby may have served as a prosecutor and done a good job, but he accepted a more important role when he became a judge. He accepted a job that demanded impartiality of the highest degree. Bobby violated his oath as a judge. He may be deserving of sympathy as a fellow human, but not as a judge who has admitted to lying. I have witnessed good people make bad mistakes throughout my career. But as a judge who lied and corrupted the legal system, Bobby is not deserving of a pardon. Bobby harmed not only the appearance of justice but justice as a rule of law. Regardless of his past, he has already been shown leniency in the legal system. I say to Bobby: “Bobby when you were a defense lawyer we were close friends. As a prosecutor, I had personal experience with you and several times you conducted yourself in a way that showed some disrespect to the Federal and State Constitutions. I expected you to be a completely fair and honest judge. In fact, I gave you that presumption and I afforded you the presumption of innocence. When you pleaded guilty, my opinion changed. I have deep sympathy for what has happened to you, but you made the choices that have landed you in jail. You sat on the bench and sentenced many people to prison, commenting on the choices they made when they committed the crimes that brought them before you. It is now time that you accept responsibility.” If you want to read the article you may go to this site: http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/01/04/mississippi.medgar.evers.prosecutor/index.html.
I disagree with those people who want to get a Pardon for Bobby Delaughter. In fact I oppose the idea. Our system of justice takes a beating all the time, but I have not seen anyone suggest a better one. If there are flaws in our system, they are the flaws that exist in us as people. We should all strive to improve ourselves, and those of us who work in the legal system strive to improve it. Bobby was my friend but he admitted to a crime. Some say he did much more. I don’t know if he did or not. I do know he needs to serve his time and rebuild his life. I hope it goes well for him. I feel the same way about the many clients I represent and help.
Merrida Coxwell is the Managing partner of Coxwell & Associates, a law firm focusing on serious personal injury and accident cases, criminal defense, and financial fraud. One partner, Frank Coxwell, handles predatory lending, consumer bankruptcy, and other consumer issues. For a free consultation contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 601-948-1600
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.