A state court judge in Mississippi who pleaded guilty today to one count of obstruction of justice--for lying to an FBI agent--will serve an 18-month prison sentence, federal prosecutors say. He accepted the plea deal in exchange for the dismissal of other charges, which included fraud and conspiracy.
Judge Bobby DeLaughter, 55, has been a circuit court judge in Hinds County, Mississippi, since 2002. Circuit court judges preside over felony prosecutions and civil cases with no limit on damages.
DeLaughter, a former state prosecutor who had aspirations to the federal bench, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi before Senior Judge Glen Davidson. DeLaughter’s lawyer, Thomas Durkin of Durkin & Roberts in Chicago, was not immediately reached for comment this evening.
An indictment filed in January 2009 accused DeLaughter of improperly handling a suit involving asbestos litigation and millions of dollars in attorney fees, court records show, and then of lying about his role in the scheme during an interview with an FBI agent. Click here for the indictment and
for the plea agreement.
“At the heart of our democracy is an independent judiciary, free from outside influence or corruption. When that is compromised, we must take steps to restore the community’s faith in the judicial system,” U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee said in a statement. “I would hope that most view this prosecution as such a cleansing step.”