Justice Department to Be Lead Counsel

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Prosecutors in the judicial bribery case of a state Supreme Court justice say the U.S. Justice Department is the lead counsel in the case. That's in an apparent attempt to circumvent defense claims of a conflict of interest with a U.S. attorney.

Attorney Paul Minor is accused of buying favorable decisions from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, Jr., former Circuit Judge John Whitfield and former Chancery Judge Wes Teel. Diaz's former wife, Jennifer Diaz, had also been named in the scheme but pleaded guilty on Monday to lesser charges and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Defense attorneys say the lead U.S. attorney revealed his selective prosecution of Minor during Jennifer Diaz's interviews with investigators leading up to her plea agreement.

Prosecutors have alleged, among other violations, that Minor guaranteed a loan for approximately $75,000 and provided checks and cash to the Diazes. The trial is scheduled to begin May 9.