One Count Dismissed Against Diaz

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A federal judge has dismissed one count of extortion against Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz in the state's judicial bribery trial.

Although U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate dismissed the count Wednesday against Diaz, he ruled against defense motions to have the judicial bribery case dismissed against all defendants.

Prosecutors had alleged that Diaz and Gulf Coast lawyer Paul Minor conspired to extort $20,000 from two attorneys involved in a lawsuit before the Supreme Court in 2001.

Wingate said the government failed to show how Diaz participated in a conspiracy.

Minor is accused of providing cash, loans and gifts to Diaz, former Circuit Judge John Whitfield and former Chancery Judge Wes Teel in exchange for favorable decisions.

All four have pleaded not guilty to bribery and fraud charges, and Minor has pleaded innocent to an additional count of racketeering.