Appeals court to hear Miss. judicial bribery case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2009

JACKSON (AP) — A federal court has set arguments for the week of March 30 in the appeals of former Mississippi attorney Paul Minor and two ex-judges convicted of bribery.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that the arguments would be held in New Orleans.

Minor and former judges John H. Whitfield and Wes Teel, both of Harrison County, were convicted in 2007 in U.S. District Court in Jackson.

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Minor, a once highly regarded attorney who amassed a fortune from asbestos, tobacco, medical malpractice and car safety cases, was ordered to serve 11 years in prison. He also was fined $2.7 million and must pay restitution.

Whitfield was sentenced to more than nine years in prison and fined $125,000. Teel was sentenced to nearly six years in prison and he and Minor were ordered jointly to pay $1.5 million in restitution to USF&G Insurance Co. That amount involved a settlement reached in Teel’s court between the insurer and one of Minor’s clients.

Prosecutors say Minor guaranteed $140,000 in loans to Whitfield in 1998 then used cash, a third party and a backdated promissory note to try to conceal the fact that Minor repaid the loan. Whitfield awarded Minor’s client $3.6 million in a personal injury lawsuit.

All three have appealed their convictions.