duck, duck, goose – Balducci taps Delaughter

Balducci, who was questioned as part of the unrelated Eaton v. Frisby lawsuit, is expected to testify against DeLaughter, who goes on trial Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court in Oxford on corruption charges. DeLaughter has insisted he is innocent, following the law in his rulings.

The sweet potato king is back in the news – exactly how seems to be the question:

Contacted for comment about the deposition, DeLaughter’s attorney, Thomas Durkin of Chicago, remarked, “I find it very curious how a sealed document ended up in the hands of the press, and it’s more proof to me that money is the root of all evil. People will do a lot of things and say a lot of things to protect their money. Someone is obviously attempting to poison the jury venire.”

Even more curious than a sealed document ending up in the hands of the press is the difference between the babbling Balducci in the recorded conversations of Scruggs I and the standard-English speaking witness he became as a witness.

And, then, there’s the matter of the Motion to Dismiss the Indictment for Government Misconduct Occurring Before the Grand Jury. Continue reading “duck, duck, goose – Balducci taps Delaughter”

It Seems Rafael Got Another Piece of Mail from Jamie Perdigao

Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission that is. Thanks to a reader, we have a second Perdigao complaint to the MCC that was sent around a week or so after the first one on traffic court judge and Adams and Reese Partner Ronald Sholes. This one involved another Adams and Reese partner Donald C Massey, who according to Mr Perdigao would sit in for Mr Sholes as Judge Pro Tempore to keep the Adams and Reese ticket fixing machine going:

Pauline Warriner and I recently filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of James Perdigao (Civil Action No. 08-3570, U.S.D.C.-E.D.LA) in which Mr. Perdigao alleges, inter alia, certain wrongful and improper “fixing” of traffic tickets by Hon. Ronald J. Sholes, Section D of New Orleans Traffic Court. The complaint also alleges that because Adams and Reese, L.L.P became so dependent on this method of resolving traffic citations, it put forward another partner to serve as judge for Section D on those days which Judge Sholes could not sit on the bench. Although the lawsuit alleges this partner served as Ad Hoc Judge, we now understand that this partner, Donald C. Massey, served in Judge Sholes’ absence as Judge Pro Tempore. On behalf of Mr. Perdigao, this letter is to request that your office investigate this matter as a potential violation of the judicial canons by Judge Massey. You may recall that on June 10, 2008, I requested a similar investigation on behalf of Mr. Perdigao for Judge Sholes.

We are enclosing documentation of several traffic tickets which we believe were improperly handled by Judge Massey Continue reading “It Seems Rafael Got Another Piece of Mail from Jamie Perdigao”

Breaking: Zach Scruggs gets 14 months in prison for failing to report an attempt to influence a state court judge (UPDATED)

Sun Herald reporting

OXFORD –Zach Scruggs gets 14 months in prison for failing to report an attempt to influence a state court judge.

His father, Dickie Scruggs, was sentenced to the maximum 5 years in prison Friday for conspiring to bribe the judge. U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr. presided over the case.

Clarion Ledger

The son of powerful trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs will like his father will be headed off to prison next month, a federal judge ruled today.

Although federal prosecutors recommended probation, U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers sentenced Zach Scruggs, 33, to 14 months in prison and fined him $250,000 for having after-the-knowledge of a scheme to bribe a Lafayette County judge to get a favorable ruling in a legal fees dispute.

Continue reading “Breaking: Zach Scruggs gets 14 months in prison for failing to report an attempt to influence a state court judge (UPDATED)”

The $50,000 question about the downfall of Dickie Scruggs

The amount of the bribe – small potatoes to a man with the wealth of Dickie Scruggs and, as it turned out, sweet ones at that – accounted in large part for the stunned reaction to his indictment captured in the Wall Street Journal interview with author John Grisham.

This doesn’t sound like the Dickie Scruggs that I know. . . . When you know Dickie, and how successful he has been, you could not believe he would be involved in such a boneheaded bribery scam that is not in the least bit sophisticated.”

The juxtaposition of his wealth, the small amount of money involved in the bribe, and a needless crime created a picture that remained out of focus even as he was sentenced.

…the amount of the bribe, in this case, that was paid, $50,000 – – 40,000 actually delivered and $10,000 more written, transferred to Balducci to supposedly give to Judge Lackey…The Court does not feel that $50,000 is – – is a reasonable figure to use in calculating the seriousness of this crime.

While reading around this morning, I found a comment that sharpened the picture a bit. Continue reading “The $50,000 question about the downfall of Dickie Scruggs”

Sentencing date set for Scruggs – Will justice be served?

Judge Biggers set July 2 as the sentencing date for Dick Scruggs, his son Zach, and Sid Backstrom in a notice issued today. h/t Y’all

Although written from the corporate perspective, attorney Joan McPhee’s recent comments on modern day justice provide an abundance of food for thought about the pressure to plead guilty to avoid a potentially harsh sentence.

Behind the weekly headlines of corporate guilty pleas and multimillion-dollar corporate criminal resolutions lies a back story — little known, less well understood — that challenges the core of what those headlines pronounce. In a peculiar 21st century phenomenon, guilt or innocence has become largely beside the point for corporations defending themselves against aggressive federal prosecutors and allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

How else to explain the non sequitur in the advice that seasoned white-collar counsel often give to their Fortune 500 clients: While the evidence is strongly in the company’s favor, and there are excellent legal and constitutional defenses to the alleged misconduct, the company nevertheless should consider admitting to criminal wrongdoing and entering a plea of guilt.

McPhee also wrote about the plea agreements offered the guilty that leave others to pay the price. That’s the bottom line, IMO, to the sentencing of Scruggs, his son, and Backstrom – and Patterson, as well. Continue reading “Sentencing date set for Scruggs – Will justice be served?”

Over the wire or under the wig – ex parte Part 3 (revised)

Improper contact intended to influence judicial decisions is certainly not a new concept. Earwigging, for example, is as old as the practice of wig-wearing judges.

The idea of making Internet blogs an innocent and unknowing partner in crime, so to speak, is as new as the reference to blog comments in the Motion for Change of Venue in US v Scruggs and Judge Mills’ recent remarks that led me to write the first of these three posts on the subject.

Blogs, as we know them, are less than a decade old. The term weblog didn’t exist until 1998 and first applied to a page of links that are now known as a blogroll. US v Scruggs, however, made that “roll” a role as blogs delivered breaking news, informed opinion, and public reaction in one powerful punch.

Mississippi’s own Y’all Politics and two others popular with Mississippi readers were the subject of Blogoshpere becomes authority and issue in Scruggs case in a February issue of Legal News Line, an on-line publication of the US Chamber of Commerce.

The blog world may yet have an impact on the outcome of the case. Scruggs’ defense team said the coverage has potentially influenced the jury pool and wants the case moved to a federal court outside of Mississippi. Continue reading “Over the wire or under the wig – ex parte Part 3 (revised)”

Over the wire or under the wig

While I do not intend to write Blogwigging for Dummies, it is important to address the Judge Mills-said-what reaction and talk more about how blog comments could be considered ex parte.

There were two news stories reporting on the panel discussion on judicial ethics held earlier this week at the University of Mississippi School of Law – one in the Daily Mississippian and one that appeared later in the day in the the Oxford Eagle.

Panelist and folo moderator NMC provided additional confirmation in his comment to the blog’s post Earwiggers – Us?

In context, I think what Judge Mills meant is that he believes there is anonymous commentary out there that is written by people who have an ax to grind and are trying to persuade courts. Basically, he thinks some of the anonymous stuff comes from one side or the other, and thinks it’s improper for a side in a case to use blog commentary in that way.

Another making comment on the thread also wrote a post on his own blog that provides context for Judge Continue reading “Over the wire or under the wig”