What do two former plaintiff friendly Supreme Court justices defeated for reelection do in retirement? They proceed to sue one of the wealthiest businessmen in Mississippi.
That is the story Tom Freeland, an Oxford attorney and one of the leading bloggers in the state on legal and judicial issues, broke on his website NMissCommentor.com on Tuesday.
This feud between Diaz and his investigators is just the latest chapter in a public legal saga beginning with allegations Minor sought to corrupt Diaz and other judges through gifts of loans and services like providing Diaz a rent-free condominium. (While Dickie Scruggs reportedly served as an intermediary for Minor in this case, and he co-owned the condominium with Minor where Diaz lived gratis, he avoided prosecution and served as a cooperating witness. Scruggs is now serving a prison sentence for an unrelated judicial corruption matter in which he apparently is now again a cooperating witness.)
During the investigations, the Judicial Performance Commission recommended a temporary suspension of Diaz from the Court. Diaz had already sought and received a leave of absence. Diaz was found not guilty on the Minor related investigations and returned to the Court.
One of Diaz’s defenses in the Minor case was the charges were not federal crimes, but at worst only state misdemeanor campaign finance violations. If so, he may be habitual in those failures. Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Diaz has yet to file his January 9, 2009 campaign finance report from his unsuccessful Mississippi Supreme Court reelection last year. It is more than 160 days late and involves tens of thousands of dollars. In 2004, Attorney General Jim Hood prosecuted Jeremy Martin, a 25-year-old teacher who challenged then Representative Jamie Franks (D-Mooreville)
and failed to report contributions less than $2500 within 48 hours of receiving them. I don’t suspect Hood will do the same to Diaz.
The salary for a public youth defender does not pay much, so Diaz will continue his fight with the Lamptons just where it has been for the past few years: in court rooms and judicial chambers with reputations and finances at stake. And whether for fun or for fee, McRae is looking for a piece as well.
Brian Perry, a former congressional aide, is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.