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U.S. Supreme Court weighing appeal of Scruggs, Minor

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court will hold a conference Feb. 15 to decide on whether to hear an appeal from Zach Scruggs, who was implicated as having knowledge of a judicial corruption scheme that toppled his father, plaintiffs’ lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs.

The conference will also make a decision in the case of former attorney Paul Minor, who was also found guilty of judicial corruption.

In Zach Scruggs’ case, court officials say a decision could be announced shortly after the conference

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld Scruggs conviction last October.

The younger Scruggs, a law partner with his father, pleaded guilty to failing to report a conspiracy to improperly influence a judge in a dispute with other lawyers over $26.5 million in legal fees.

He served a 14-month prison sentence and also lost his law license.

Richard Scruggs and three others were convicted in the bribery scheme.

Minor has asked the nation’s high court to overturn his sentence in a Mississippi judicial corruption case.

Court officials say a decision could also be announced shortly after the conference.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last August upheld the sentences of Minor and former judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield. Prosecutors said Minor backed loans for the judges in exchange for favorable court rulings.

In court documents, Minor has argued prosecutors didn’t prove he received something in return for guaranteeing loans for Teel, a Chancery Court judge, and Whitfield, a Circuit Court judge.

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 was first convicted of corruption charges in 2007 and sentenced to 11 years. He was re-sentenced in 2011 to eight years because the 5th Circuit had vacated bribery convictions in 2009. The appeals court let some of his convictions stand, including racketeering.

Teel and Whitfield also were re-sentenced to shorter terms. Teel is out of prison.

Whitfield is scheduled to be released in June and Minor in August, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

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