Federal Judge To Hear Motions In Minor, Diaz Judicial Bribery Case

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate will hear motions June 2 in Mississippi's judiciary bribery case. Among the motions are requests to dismiss new charges against attorney Paul Minor and Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr. and his ex-wife Jennifer.

The Diazes and Minor, along with former judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield, are accused of participating in a scheme in which Minor allegedly provided cash, loans and gifts to the judges in exchange for favorable decisions.

They were originally indicted last summer. A new indictment was filed by federal prosecutors in February.

The new indictment charged Diaz and Minor with extortion besides fraud and bribery. All five have pleaded innocent. A trial date has been set for Aug. 16.

The new indictment added charges that Minor tried to extort money for Diaz from two attorneys whose case was before the Supreme Court.

In its response to the motions, the government said the new indictment follows the language in the statutes.

Robert McDuff, in a reply filed Wednesday with the Jackson federal court, said the government still did not support its allegations that Diaz knew anything about Minor's activities or that Jennifer Diaz had anything to do with the cases before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Minor allegedly told the attorneys that Diaz had swung the Supreme Court's vote in favor of their client, and then asked for $20,000 for Diaz while the court considered a motion to rehear the case, according to the indictment.

The indictment also expanded the dates of Minor's alleged involvement with Diaz to 1994, when Diaz was on the Court of Appeals.

Attorneys for the Diazes and Minor have argued that the government has failed to provide support for its allegations that the three did anything wrong or violate any federal law.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)