Scruggs, Minor, and some legal odds and ends (pun intended) – Nielsen, Wilson, Robie and Tort Reform

The “drafts file” is overflowing (again) and time is short (again) – nothing to do but pull a handful of things I think worth a mention and go for what Sop has called a “round-up” post.

First up is an update on Young v Scruggs – brief because the case is stuck on proper service of the summons issued to Dick Scruggs, a discussion I passed on recenty when reporting Defendant’s Rebuttal.  What’s happened since the, however, is more interesting.  First, the defendants fied a Motion to Strike Purported Summons that basically restated the argument Scruggs was not lawfully served and there was a pending motion to dismiss on that basis.  Next, plaintiffs pop up and file Notice the summons has been reissued – and on that same day, according to the docket,  defendants filed anAmended Motion to Strike that cites and attaches a recent Mississippi Supreme Court ruling on the subject that’s worth a look.

The latest news on USA v Minor (Whitfield and Teel) makes for interesting reading – so did the recently filed Motion for Rehearing that was sitting in drafts when most media had the story up.  Here’s the Motion and here’s the latest:

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 28(j), Paul Minor notifies the Court of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC, No. 08-205 (Jan. 21, 2010). That decision clarifies that the jury instructions in this case, which allowed the jury to convict the defendants of honest services fraud for campaign contributions made with only an intent to influence and without any quid pro quo, violate the First Amendment. h/t Legal Schnauzer (entire letter posted there)

Now, news on the “odds” – the first “odd” appears to be Gerald Nielsen or, more accurately, Mr. Nielsen appears to be odd – long on ego but short on memory.  Continue reading “Scruggs, Minor, and some legal odds and ends (pun intended) – Nielsen, Wilson, Robie and Tort Reform”

Scruggs defendants file Rebuttal in support of Motion to Dismiss Young v Scruggs

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap

Even with the pleadings reported in The Barriester’s Dream – Plaintiffs’ Oppose Scruggs’ Motion to Dismiss, Scruggs refused the role of  Snark in this latest filing in Young v Scruggs, Defendants’ Rebuttal Brief in Support of their Motion to Dismiss:

Plaintiffs’ RICO claims do not fail because of a technical misstep; they fail because the series of events alleged in the Complaint and the RICO Statement do not rise to the level of a RICO violation which entitles Plaintiffs to that statute’s special remedies.

The brief states, There is no magic language Plaintiffs can add to their pleadings to create a RICO cause of action. Believe me, there is also no magic language to make a discussion of law related to serving Richard Scruggs with process interesting reading.  The rest, however, is interesting reading and an apt reminder that RICO is not something you just toss out to get your case in federal court.

Defendants Scruggs et al make three clear arguments for dismissing Plaintiffs’ RICO claims: Continue reading “Scruggs defendants file Rebuttal in support of Motion to Dismiss Young v Scruggs”

It’s tragic for him, tragic for his family and tragic for our state…

I read recently that a man in California who had pled guilty to a similar charge in one of these “dishonest services” cases had his guilty plea thrown out by a federal judge who concluded that his “little white lie” was not relevant to the success of the investigation therefore, he was not guilty of “obstructing” it.   Maybe someday someone will look at DeLaughter’s deal. If the Feds had no intention of bringing bribery/conspiracy charges against Ed Peters  (which was apparently the case) how could DeLaughter’s “lie” regarding the number of times Peters contacted him been relevant to their investigation?  (DeLaughter’s discrepancy was not about WHETHER Peters had contacted him but rather, how many times.).  If the purpose of their investigation was to prove bribery/conspiracy by Scruggs/Peters, they’d only need to prove that Peters approached DeLaughter ONCE It would not matter if he actually contacted him DOZENS of times or only ” the couple” that DeLaughter acknowledged.
For individuals like the reader that emailed this heartfelt comment – an acquaintance and admirer of former Judge Bobby Delaughter – as well as his family and friends, today is a very sad day.  Jerry Mitchell had the story in Sunday’s Clarion Ledger:
Bobby DeLaughter, who as a prosecutor and judge put thousands of people behind bars, is expected to report to prison Monday. Continue reading “It’s tragic for him, tragic for his family and tragic for our state…”

Another one! Order of Dismissal entered following Joint Stipulation of Dismissal filed by Dick Scruggs and E.A. Renfroe

The disputes between the parties to this action were previously settled and dismissed by an order dated April 7, 2009. Following a reversal of the contempt findings against non-parties Richard F. Scruggs and the Scruggs Law Firm, P.A. by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, Appeal Number 08-14716-DD, the remaining disputes have been settled between E. A. Renfroe & Company, Inc., and the above-referenced non-parties. Therefore, by and through their respective counsel of record, the undersigned do hereby jointly stipulate to the dismissal of all remaining issues and claims between them in this matter, with prejudice, each party to bear its own respective costs.

When the contempt findings issued by Judge Acker were vacated and remanded by Order of the 11th Circuit – 11th Circuit overturns Scruggs contempt citation! – the Court directed all remaining issues pertaining to Scruggs in the Renfroe case should be assigned to a different district court judge.   Continue reading “Another one! Order of Dismissal entered following Joint Stipulation of Dismissal filed by Dick Scruggs and E.A. Renfroe”

Breaking News – Wilson v Scruggs settles!

Remember Eastland dismantles RICO claim in Wilson v Scruggs? Well, he sure ‘nuf did – although Patsy Brumfield broke the story in the Daily Journal before I could get to my computer:

Roberts Wilson Jr.’s multi-million-dollar lawsuit against imprisoned ex-attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs has come to an end – it’s been settled, Wilson’s attorney, Charlie Merkel of Clarksdale tells the Daily Journal.

Wilson sued Scruggs and others, accusing them of not paying what he was owed years ago for his part in national asbestos litigation. He also claimed they owed him for using his fees to bankroll other national lawsuits, which yielded mega-fees for the attorneys involved.

One of those “others” was Scruggs co-defendant Steve Patterson and Eastland’s motion to dismiss the RICO case was written in his role as Counsel for Patterson. Continue reading “Breaking News – Wilson v Scruggs settles!”

Alan Lange

For Immediate Release                            
Pediment Publishing/360.687.6731                                

Kings of Tort available on December 2nd

The amazing story behind tort magnate Dickie Scruggs’s judicial bribery scandal is presented by Pediment Publishing. Kings of Tort is the authoritative work on documenting this nationally known story and the relatively unknown 25 year history behind it. The book will be made available in retail outlets throughout the country on December 2nd. More Information including advance ordering of the book is available at

Kings of Tort chronicles the sordid tale of judicial bribery and political intrigue in Mississippi, birthplace of the tobacco litigation and long known as one of the most tort-friendly jurisdictions in the nation. It features the story of Dickie Scruggs, who was largely credited with bringing down Big Tobacco in the early 1990s. From his ascent to a net worth of nearly a billion dollars to his seemingly unfathomable downfall stemming from his role in attempting to corrupt two local judges by improperly influencing the outcome of cases, the book documents how those in Scruggs’s own trusted circle of tort barons turned on him and cooperated with federal authorities. It also shows the political influence he wielded with judges, attorneys general, and even his own brother-in-law, former US Senator Trent Lott.

The Dickie Scruggs judicial bribery case has been covered extensively by the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, New York Times, LA Times, The Clarion-Ledger, Sun Herald and dozens of other Mississippi and national media outlets. Scruggs’s story during his meteoric rise through the Big Tobacco litigation was documented on PBS Frontline, ABC’s 20/20, and CBS’s 60 Minutes. Eventually, the 60 Minutes story became the subject of a movie, “The Insider,” featuring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.

The book also chronicles the legal bribery story of Scruggs confidante and tobacco lawsuit partner Paul Minor, son of Mississippi political columnist Bill Minor. He was convicted, along with the two judges he improperly influenced, and is currently serving an 11 year prison sentence. Minor is currently fighting his conviction on appeal from prison through his attorney Abbe Lowell, who defended former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial.

Kings of Tort is an engaging read that examines the power of these tort barons and the unmistakable pattern of how corporate defendants were trapped in what Scruggs called “magic jurisdictions” and subject to coordinated political, criminal and civil pressure to produce enormous settlements. It’s a must read for those interested in the legal profession, politics or just a fascinating human story of greed and hubris. Continue reading “Alan Lange”

Patsy Brumfield scratches the surface in Too many connections for lawsuit against Scruggs et al…

In Too many connections for lawsuit against Scruggs et al, a post to her blog published by the Daily Journal, Patsy Brumfield touches on a subject that  has needed discussion since the indictment of Scruggs et al back in 2007:

Have you ever expressed your awe for how things just get “connected” in Mississippi?

Like, you find out your Mama is the governor’s second cousin or your former hometown baby-sitter is living down the street? Or you run into the mayor of Lucedale as you ride the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument? (That really happened to me.)

You know what I’m talking about.

Some know what Patsy’s talking about because they recall the motion filed by Scruggs, Scruggs and Backstrom for a change of venue:

Prominent members of the Northern Mississippi legal community, knowing full well the risks of prejudicing a venire in small-town Mississippi, have nonetheless piled on in condemnatory public statements about Scruggs. Clarksdale attorney Charlie Merkel told one reporter about the indictment: “I’m not surprised, because [Scruggs is] willing to use any means to an end. And it irks the hell out of me when Scruggs skates on the edge and makes the profession look bad.”  Elsewhere, Merkel called Scruggs’s alleged acts “despicable.” Grady Tollison, who represented Johnny Jones in the fee-dispute before Judge Lackey, alleged that Scruggs has “had a consistent pattern of violating his fiduciary duties to partners in these legal ventures.”  Another lawyer for Jones, Roy Percy went even further, declaring of Defendants in their hometown Oxford Eagle: “They should be ashamed to the deepest core. My clients are ashamed they were once associated with them…

Patsy did not have the local bar “connections” in mind when she wrote about the connections that appeared to force the Fifth Circuit to go to Texas to get a judge for the latest installment of legal cases against former Oxford mega-lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and co-horts: Continue reading “Patsy Brumfield scratches the surface in Too many connections for lawsuit against Scruggs et al…”

Recuse in the Scruggs news

A coincidence, perhaps? Northern district Judge Shannon Aycock (Wilson v Scruggs) and southern district Judge Sul Ozerden (Young v Scruggs) each recused from a case involving Dick Scruggs in Orders dated October 15, 2009.

Wilson v Scruggs was filed in federal court in North Mississippi and assigned to Judge Neil Biggers.  Shortly after Scruggs’ co-defendant Steve Patterson filed his Motion to Dismiss, Judge Biggers recused and the case was reassigned to Judge Shannon Aycock.

However, Judge Aycock filed a Waiver of Judicial Disqualification with the Clerk:

Unless a waiver is obtained from all parties and all counsel, Judge Aycock intends to disqualify in this proceeding because of these circumstances:

Judge Aycock’s Courtroom Deputy, Ginger McDaniel Sullivan, worked as a
paralegal with the Wm. Roberts Wilson, Jr. P.A., law firm in Jackson, Mississippi, from June 2001 to February 2005. In that position, Sullivan worked under the direction of William Roberts Wilson, Jr., Charles M. Merkel, III, and Roberts Wilson, Jr. During her employment, Sullivan was familiar with and worked on issues in the lawsuit Wilson vs. Scruggs, et al, First Judicial District of Hinds County Circuit Court. This litigation was pending when she began her employment and was not resolved as of the date she left the firm…

If a waiver is not received from all parties and all counsel, this Notice and any responses will be kept under seal by the clerk and not shown to the judge, nor will the judge be informed of the identity of any party or lawyer who declined to waive the disqualification. If the disqualification is not waived, the case will be reassigned to another judge.

Apparently waivers were not received from all parties as Judge Aycock recused and issued a related Order dated October 15, 2009. Continue reading “Recuse in the Scruggs news”

Biggers gives Wilson’s wheel of fortune another spin – Recusal puts hot potato in rotation

Who was “It” when Wilson v Scruggs became a game of hot potato? US Attorney Jim Greenlee?

It is clear that the Plaintiffs’ have filed this Motion in an attempt to circumvent the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding discovery. As a preliminary matter, Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d)(l) prohibits a party from seeking discovery “from any source before the parties have conferred as required by Rule 26(f), except … when authorized by [the] rules, by stipulation, or by court order.”

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d)(I). The Rule 16.1 (A) Initial Order entered in this matter (Docket Number 53) reflects a Case Management Conference date of September 29, 2009, with an attorney conference of twenty-one (21) days prior. Because that Rule 26(t) Attorney Conference has not yet occurred, Plaintiffs are precluded from seeking discovery from any source at this juncture.

Not Greenlee.  The USA’s Special Appearance and Response to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preservation and Retention of Documents makes it clear the USA does not want to play.

Maybe the Scruggs Defendants?

The Scruggs Defendants further object to the production of these documents to Continue reading “Biggers gives Wilson’s wheel of fortune another spin – Recusal puts hot potato in rotation”

Friday Music: Life imitating art imitating life

One by one the straw men, so carefully constructed, come tumbling down. Simple politics Sid, alway was, always will be……

So who will be first? Which account will be accurate? Watching from afar having fully debriefed several on the inside all I can say is what’s coming has some “fun” potential. Nowdy maybe we should write a book.  😉