Minor appeal denied by U.S. SC

John O'Brien Oct. 4, 2010, 1:36pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - On the first day of its new term, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of Paul Minor, a Mississippi trial lawyer who was convicted of a judicial bribery scheme involving loans to state judges.

Minor had been represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson and claimed his prosecution, by the President George W. Bush-era Department of Justice, was politically motivated.

Minor and two state judges, Walter Teel and John Whitfield, were found guilty in 2007 of the alleged scheme.

The federal government alleged that Minor guaranteed a $25,000 line of credit for Teel while Teel was running for Harrison County Chancery Court judge, and that Minor used an intermediary to disguise the source of the loan payments.

The government also alleged Minor guaranteed a $40,000 loan for Whitfield in 1998 while Whitfield was running for re-election to the Harrison County Circuit Court. The loan purported to be for campaign expenses, and Minor guaranteed another loan to Whitfield after Whitfield's victory, it is alleged.

This loan was worth $100,000 and was purportedly for the down payment on a house, and Minor disguised the fact that he was paying off the loans for Whitfield, the government claimed.

In return for these favors, the judges made favorable rulings in cases involving Minor's firm, the feds alleged.

Former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz was acquitted of charges that he was also involved in a scheme with Minor.

Minor amassed his fortunte in asbestos lawsuits and by representing the state of Mississippi in a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision could have an impact on the son of one of Minor's tobacco litigation partners, Y'All Politics predicts.

Zach Scruggs wants his guilty plea in his father's alleged judicial bribery scheme set aside. Dickie Scruggs pleaded guilty to a pair of schemes that earned him 7 1/2 years in prison.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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