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Minor, judges appealing judicial bribery charges

JACKSON — Former attorney Paul Minor and two former judges have appealed their convictions in a Mississippi judicial bribery case and have asked a federal court to schedule oral arguments.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has not ruled on the request. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has not yet filed a response

Minor was convicted of backing loans to the judges in exchange for favorable court rulings. The judges were convicted of taking bribes.

Minor was first convicted of corruption charges in 2007 and sentenced to 11 years. He was re-sentenced in June to eight years because the 5th Circuit had vacated bribery convictions in 2009. The appeals court let some convictions stand, including racketeering for Minor.

Former Harrison County judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield also were re-sentenced to shorter terms. Teel is out of prison.

In court documents filed this month, Minor argues that federal prosecutors didn’t prove that Minor got something in return for guaranteeing loans for Teel and Whitfield. Teel and Whitfield joined in Minor’s brief.

Prosecutors said Minor guaranteed loans for the judges, then used cash and third parties to pay off the debts. They said the judges then ruled in his favor in civil cases. Minor has said the loans were meant to help friends in times of need and that he expected nothing in return.

Prosecutors said all three took extraordinary steps to hide the loans.

Minor said the government failed to show that he bought any ruling with payments to Teel or Whitfield nor did the government show that a different judge would have come to a different conclusion in the two cases cited by prosecutors.

In a separate filing in October, Whitfield complained that his prison term was not reduced in the same proportion as Minor’s and Teel’s. Whitfield contends that could mean he will be in prison the longest of the three.

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