Convicted attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and his son want to prevent their sworn testimony in a Hurricane Katrina lawsuit from becoming public and “undermining the presumption of innocence” if they face criminal charges in the future.
…and Judge Walker sent both to the bench when he issued this Order.
Before the Court are  the motion for protective order filed by non-parties Richard and Zachary Scruggs, and  State Farm’s motion for leave to file under seal motions to compel the Scruggses to answer questions they refused to answer during their recent depositions.
The Scruggses request that the Court enter a protective order sealing their depositions because both invoked their Fifth Amendment privileges during their respective depositions.
State Farm requests, in the interim, that it be allowed to file its motions to compel under seal as State Farm is attempting to conclude the depositions with all dispatch since both Richard and Zachary Scruggs are scheduled to soon report to federal correctional institutions to begin serving their sentences for the crimes to which each has pled guilty.
The Court’s declining to seal the Scruggses’ depositions in this action in no way precludes them from asserting their Fifth Amendment privileges as to future criminal prosecutions, should any arise. The Court finds the conclusory allegations of the motion insufficient to constitute good cause for sealing the Scruggses’ depositions. This finding effectively renders moot State Farm’s motion to file its motions to compel under seal.
Both of these motions include transcripts of the depositions taken July 21 in Oxford – 70-something pages each of questions all answered by 5th amendment privilege. We’ll soon see if the media uses the questions posed by State Farm in a way that denies the Scruggses the presumption of innocence – the basis for their request to seal.
Outside the blogoshpere, first up for examination, no doubt, will be Gulf States Publishing that filed a johnny-come-lately motion in opposition to motions to seal.