JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An insurance company is asking for sanctions against Paul Minor in a lawsuit linked to the corruption case that sent the former attorney and two Mississippi judges to prison.
USF&G Insurance Co. says its lawyers have had to respond to "frivolous" motions filed by Minor in his attempts to remove U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate from the case. The company also alleges, among other things, that Minor hasn't fulfilled his discovery obligations even though the lawsuit was filed in October 2003.
Minor, who had been one of the most prominent plaintiffs' lawyers in Mississippi, was convicted of corruption in 2007 along with former Harrison County judges John Whitfield and Wes Teel.
USF&G said it deserves to be awarded attorneys' fees and "costs it has incurred as a result of Minor's vexatious, unreasonable and harassing conduct."
An attorney for Minor said in a court filing this past week that the motions were not frivolous.
"The fact that they have been unsuccessful does not mean that they were filed without a good faith belief in their merit," Minor's lawyer, John Corlew, wrote in court records.
Minor has also argued that the lawsuit has dragged on because it was on hold pending the criminal case.
Minor claims Wingate, who also presided over his criminal case, allowed the government to "falsely charge, convict and sentence" Minor to prison. Minor has argued unsuccessfully for Wingate to step down from the civil case.
The USF&G lawsuit stems from a $1.5 million settlement in which Teel was the judge when Minor sued USF&G on behalf of Peoples Bank.
USF&G claims Minor "fraudulently obtained" the $1.5 million settlement because Teel's rulings favored Peoples Bank. Minor had personally guaranteed a loan for Teel from the bank and secretly paid off the debt, the lawsuit said.
Minor and the judges were convicted of numerous charges in 2007, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later threw out some of the convictions.
Wingate resentenced the men in June 2011 based on the appeals court ruling. Minor, who was serving the longest prison term, was re-sentenced to eight years, down from 11.
The 66-year-old is scheduled for release from federal prison next year.
Prosecutors said Minor went to banks and guaranteed loans for the judges, then used cash and third parties to pay off the debts himself. The judges allegedly ruled in his favor in civil cases.