Judges Will Decide Diaz's Fate In Coast Bribery Case

A special tribunal of state judges will apparently decide whether to suspend Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Junior, who is facing federal fraud and bribery charges. That's according to Darlene Ballard, an attorney with the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. Ballard said today that the Mississippi Constitution calls for the secretary of state to impanel a tribunal to decide whether suspension is warranted.

She says members of the special court would be impaneled from chancery and circuit judges from throughout the state. The commission filed a request yesterday that Diaz be barred from taking part in Supreme Court deliberations while the case against him is pending. David Blount, a spokesman for Secretary of State Eric Clark, acknowledged receipt of the commission's request. Blount says Clark will draw names for the tribunal in the next couple of weeks.

Biloxi attorney Paul Minor is accused of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans and gifts to Diaz and four others in a scheme to deprive Mississippi and its citizens of their right to an honest judicial system.