The James hearing scheduled for tomorrow may not be the end for Dickie’s boy Zach but tomorrow he’s Zach the man – jonesing for justice.
USA v Scruggs began last November but the story behind the case began with another man – jonesing for revenge and using the court as his weapon – John Jones.
Jones’ firm had been one of the five operating as the Scruggs Katrina Group (SKG) under a joint venture agreement. Involved in a fee dispute with SKG, Jones retained Oxford attorney Grady Tollison to file suit – contrary to the terms of the SKG joint venture agreement.
Disputes – Any dispute arising under or relating to the terns of this agreement shall be resolved by mandatory binding arbitration, conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the American Arbitration Association. The site of the arbitration shall be Oxford,MS
After Scruggs indictment, Jones told Fortune magazine that he asked for arbitration 14 times in writing, and nine times orally, but was always refused. Tollison had, in fact, referenced Jones attempts in the Complaint filed March 15, 2007 – a complaint assigned to Judge Henry Lackey charging SKG member firms with a laundry list of breeches.
Almost a year later, Scruggs’ defense team would file a Motion to Dismiss that cited the unusual circumstances surrounding the filing of the Jones lawsuit – particularly that Judge Lackey sealed the case on a verbal motion and that Tollison had a copy of the suit delivered to Scruggs office later the same day with a letter advising them it would be unsealed on the 19th unless SKG settled.
According to the Motion, SKG instead filed to stay the court case and move to arbitration – and also filed a request for arbitration as required by AAA policy – something Jones had never done.
Yes, you read that correctly – Jones never followed the AAA process; Tollison didn’t follow the AAA process, and Judge Lackey had to have known that and could have told Balducci 13 days later.
Instead we learned it was something any lawyer should have known to do and done from Judge Coleman on the 15th of January.
The Plaintiff’s knew or should have known of the provisions of the AAA rules…The rules provide that the parties may initiate arbitration by filing with the AAA a written request setting out the facts in the dispute…This was followed by the Defendants subsequent to the filing of the suit.
The Fortune interview with John Jones suggests his motivation.
He specifically chose to bring the case in Oxford, where Scruggs lives and works, rather than in Jackson, where Jones does, in order to shame Scruggs, he says. (Oxford is about 160 miles north of Jackson.) “I wanted a jury to hear it in Dickie’s backyard,” Jones says. “I wanted to ‘out’ this a little bit.
The portion of the transcript of the November 1 recorded conversation used to indict Zach suggests more (pages 23 and 25) was involved than just shaming Dickie Scruggs.
What do we do about him releasing all this privileged stuff…I mean we filed the bar complaint…that he’s filing a bunch of stuff that have nothing to with his suit against us trying to get out in the public domain…and they been using that…they filed against the Attorney general, State Farm is…
We left with many questions – but the real hero may very well prove to be Zach.