Tribunal: "Suspend Diaz"

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A seven-member tribunal decided Tuesday that suspension, with pay, was warranted for Justice Oliver Diaz, pending resolution of the federal charges against him.

Diaz has been on a leave of absence with pay from the court.

The tribunal was selected from circuit and chancery judges throughout the state after the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance recommended Diaz's suspension on July 30.

A federal grand jury has indicted Diaz, Gulf Coast trial lawyer Paul Minor, judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield, and Diaz's ex-wife, Jennifer. Minor is also charged with racketeering. All five have pleaded not guilty.

The indictment alleges the judges gave Minor an unfair advantage after he paid off or guaranteed campaign loans, made cash payments and in one case paid a judge's legal expenses.

All defendants are scheduled for trial Mar. 1 in Jackson.