Second Judicial Bribery Trial Begins Monday - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Second Judicial Bribery Trial Begins Monday

The retrial of a noted coast attorney and two former Harrison County judges begins Monday morning. Twelve jurors will determine whether Paul Minor bribed Wes Teel and John Whitfield.

When this case was heard two years ago, a jury could not reach a consensus on the federal bribery accusations.

Opening arguments in trial number one began on June 1, 2005. Over the next two months, jurors heard testimony that tried to link Paul Minor to fraud and bribery accusations.

The federal government argued that Minor used his influence to get favorable rulings from former Harrison County judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield. However, the jury came back with a bunch of no verdicts.

Jurors couldn't unanimously agree whether Minor was guilty of five counts of fraud, and two counts of bribery. They never determined if Teel was guilty of one count of bribery and two counts of fraud. And jurors never said if Whitfield was guilty of one count of bribery and three counts of fraud.

"The verdict of the jury today could not be more clear. That in no count has the government satisfied its burden of proof to show that any of these men did anything wrong," Defense Attorney Abby Lowell said.

However, the government decided to try again. That's why a new jury was selected Tuesday to hear the same case in the same federal courthouse.

A day after the 2005 trial ended, Wes Teel commented on the possibility of a second trial.

"I have no control. I don't have any hatred or hard feelings toward anybody. I just want to go on with my life," Wes Teel said.

The first trial had a fourth defendant. Supreme Court justice Oliver Diaz was cleared of any wrong doing in connection to the judicial bribery allegations.

by Brad Kessie

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