Mississippi’s just us justice – final

Patsy Brumfield of the Journal reports on today’s events in the just-us-justice system of Mississippi.

Timothy Balducci and Steven Patterson will do prison time, despite their cooperation into the infamous conspiracy to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.

Their sentences were set today by Senior U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. today at the federal courthouse in Oxford.

• Balducci, formerly of New Albany, will serve 24 months in prison. Balducci was given no fine, because records showed he could not pay one.

• Patterson of New Albany will serve 24 months in prison. Patterson was also given a $150,000 fine.

Justice or just-us-justice?  It’s really hard for me to say –  not for lack of thought or thought-provoking comment from others here on the blog and off-blog as well.  However, there often is a difference between justice as commonly defined and the sometimes just-us-justice here – a difference that is one of the many that make Mississippi the “State of Paradox”.

We’ve birthed the blue; performed the first successful heart transplant: and, bottled the firt coca-cola – but even considering USA v Scruggs and all its implications, we are better people in a better place with a better legal system than that of our past. Some would disagree but none could argue the point with fact.

Lack of fact has never been a barrier for the low-literate but language-rich story-telling population of the “State of Paradox”.   Here, the direct descendants of the first Mr. Right (fn:Always) and his Mrs. (nee Promise you-won’t-tell-another-living-soul But) have informed and entertained  for generations. In doing so, these story-tellers have defined and devined how the outside world views Mississippi and distorted the outside world to those here.

Just-us-justice established the practice of  selective disgrace during a period in the history of the “State of Paradox” when it was not disgraceful for one man to own another – just doing business. As the then wealth of the State evolved into generational poverty, people began to trade on favor – a transaction that makes one man’s word another man’s bondage with the ever present threat of public disgrace from a legal flogging.

Justice or just us justice USA v Scruggs and the legal system as applied to Scruggs, Scruggs, Backstrom, Balducci, Patterson, Langston, Delaughter and Peters ?

Consider this excerpt from the transcript of the plea hearing for Dick Scruggs, Judge Neil Biggers presiding:

MR . KEKER : Your Honor, could I interrupt [the government’s presentation of the factual basis] to say that much of the prosecutor’ s summary – – we discussed it – – is based on discovery and information that we have learned during the process of preparing this case. We believe – – and I ‘ve discussed with Mr. Scruggs – – that the prosecutors could prove what they say they are proving.

Much of that is, as you know, based on testimony of people and under circumstances where Mr. Scruggs was not there and doesn’ t have firsthand knowledge of it. But we agree that that’ s what they can prove, and that that’ s an adequate factual basis for the plea.

The modern day generation of Mr. Always Right’s descendants had a field day indicting Dick Scruggs in the Court of Public Opinion with charges of arrogance for acting as if he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong.

Of course, Scruggs’ attorney, was an “outsider” – viewed by the Misters Right a carpet bagging lawyer from California – and one they would issue no passport to the “State of Paradox”.

Frank Trapp, attorney for defendant Sid Backstrom, has no need of such a passport.  Trapp – a man known to “act with love of mercy” – walks humbly and above this generation of Misters Right in this excerpt from the transcript of Sid Backstrom’s Plea Hearing, again Judge Neil Biggers presiding.

MR. TRAPP: …there was discussions this morning, and we understood, that there would be deleted the word corruptly as it appeared in the factual basis in the assertion that, “Knowing Tim Balducci and Judge Lackey had been friends for many years, the co-conspirators asked Balducci to explore the possibility of influencing the judge, ” not corruptly influence. So we disagree with that and thought we had an agreement with the U . S . Attorney’ s Office on that.

Secondly, Your Honor – – as Mr. Keker did – – we acknowledge that, as the evidence would be presented by testimony at trial, there would be proof with respect from testimony – – not physical proof – – of an order being e -mailed on May 4th, 2007, from Sidney Backstrom to Tim Balducci. We dispute that, Your Honor. There’ s no physical evidence, no e -mail exists.

And then, secondly, Your Honor, with respect to the allegation that – – or statement that there was a September 21, 2007, conversation between Mr. Backstrom and Mr. Balducci in which Mr. Balducci discussed a $40,000 payment to Judge Lackey, we dispute that that conversation took place.

And having said that, Your Honor, we would – – with that predicate, if you will, with respect to the factual basis – -not disputing that would be Mr. Balducci’ s testimony; but to the extent I just stated, Your Honor, we disagree with the factual basis. And having said that as a predicate, I –

Both Backstrom and Scruggs entered guilty pleas – guilty to charges they knew the goverment could prove with the testimony of Tim Balducci –  and are currently confined in federal prison as is their law partner, Scruggs’ son Zach.

The Misters Right accepted the word of Tim Balducci as the gold standard of just-us-justice – although the transcripts of recorded conversations in the case document Balducci offering a cash bribe to Judge Lackey in an unrelated case – a crime quickly forgotten by the USA and the Misters Right in their zeal to put Scruggs behind bars – and perhaps one unknown to Judge Biggers.

Just-us-justice established the practice of  selective disgrace during a period in the history of the “State of Paradox” when it was not disgraceful for one man to own another – just doing business. As the then wealth of the State evolved into generational poverty, people began to trade on favor – a transaction that makes one man’s word another man’s bondage with the ever present threat of public disgrace from a legal flogging.

The Misters Right have moved on to dispense even more just us justice, this time to Judge Bobby Delaughter – as eager as the Misters Right of earlier generations were to dispense with a man they owned and sleep with his wife.

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