Breaking: State Farm's motion to seal held moot by Walker's denial of Scruggs motion to seal

Both sides were playing the “seal” gameState Farm and the Scruggses – a point that appears to be lost in related reports

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 [1232] the motion for protective order filed by non-parties Richard and Zachary Scruggs, and [1233] 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.

Keeping the wires hot, State Farm had the motions to compel Dick Scruggs and his son Zach to complete depositions up on Pacer before I could get notice of Walker’s decision on SLABBED.

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.

17 thoughts on “Breaking: State Farm's motion to seal held moot by Walker's denial of Scruggs motion to seal”

  1. Do you understand that State Farm really didn’t want any aspect of the Scruggs testimony to be sealed? They thought all along that the deps should be in the open, but filed their motion just to expedite the holding of the deposition.

    The Sun Herald had it right, and you apparently misunderstand or are spinning what just happened.

  2. The Farm was holding hands with Scruggs Mr Claimsguy. They knew what he was going to do and he did it – took the 5th on every question, even his date of birth.

    McIntosh hits the courtroom soon, they better figure out quick how they are going to defend Lecky King and her taking the 5th in a depo that will be allowed into evidence.


  3. What’s good for the goose…

    Now that Hood’s noise about criminal charges has receded, I wonder if King continues with the Fifth or starts to answer questions? I call that one a toss-up.

    Hey, SOP, where are you on the QT over-and-under? Taking the over?

  4. Lecky King is under perpetual federal investigation CG. We covered a WaPo story on how far behind DoJ is on these QT cases. King and others are also ducking service of process.

    Indications are we’ll both be dead and our grandchildren grown before we find out how this turns out. Most of these cases settle.

    This is the last bit of SF being able to use McIntosh to take shots at the sisters in the OT case.


  5. Are you seriously suggesting that there is an ongoing CRIMINAL investigation?

    I rather doubt it.

  6. This was the key passage in the DOJ’s notice that it would not intervene in the Rigsby qui tam case in January:

    “The Government’s investigation has not been completed, as certain potentially relevant information has not become available. As such, the United States is not able to decide, as of the Court’s deadline, whether to proceed with the action. Accordingly, the United States hereby notifies the Court that it is not intervening at this time.

    “However, under 31 U.S.C.

  7. Do you have a source for the existance of an ongoing criminal investigation?

    I get that the DOJ used equivocal language when it passed on intervening. I don’t think that is unusual, nor do I think you can read anything meaningful into it.

  8. Let’s try again, Brian. How about this: can you cite me to any material that indicates there has been any active criminal investigation in the last three months. (I choose three months as an arbtrary substitute for the concept of “ongoing”.)

    You cited something that says there was investigation ongoing 9 months ago. The other references were essentailly undated.

    By the way, I am not saying there is or is not an ongoing, active investigation. But you ARE saying that there is, and I am simply asking you to source that fact. Quoting me stuff from 2007 and 2005 really doesn’t accomplish that, does it?

  9. Claimsguy, you said you were a lawyer. You see what the DOJ said about the qui tam and the government’s cases, and RICO. Until they are over, resolved or dismissed they are on-going. Why are you playing games?

  10. Belle:

    We aren’t arguing about the QT. The DOJ’s position there is what it is. I suspect it will stay in the “leave us alone” mode until the QT case is over, but who knows.

    Criminal investigations, on the other hand, are not “dismissed” or even officially “resolved” unless they have ripened into an official proceeding, like an indictment, that requires some sort of official resolution. Therefore it is entirely possible that whatever investigation Ms. King was concerned about has since ceased, and we wouldn’t know. DAs generally don’t announce the end of an investigation. Perhaps they should, but they don’t.

    I speculated that the investigation may have ended, and was directly contradicted. OK, fine. My knowledge on the state of that investigation is admittedly incomplete. But if someone wants to make the categorical statement that the investigation is ongoing, I think it is fair to ask “how is it you know this?” Because asking that question is only way to get at whether the speaker really knows something or is just blowing smoke.

    If Brian wants to say “I know because someone told me, but I can’t reveal my source”, then OK. I would be disappointed that a DA’s office is leaky (which is probably illegal), but that would be end of it.

    Or if Brian could cite me to something authoritative in the public domain where the ongoing investigation was referenced lately, that would be fine, too.

    But I don’t think the question is unreasonable, and I think that the answers I have received so far have been evasive and unresponsive.

  11. I know the investigation is active, but my most recent source is not public information. DOJ does not put out press releases to update everyone on its ongoing investigations. The notice to the court was signed by 2 Assistant US Attorneys in MS & 3 Civil Division attorneys in DC and they said the investigation was continuing.
    I don’t care whether you believe it or not? Do you think your powers of denial will make it go away?

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