Category Archives: USA v DeLaughter

Wilson v Scruggs and the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows

“And so I am become a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows!”

Just a few months after finally reaching a settlement with Dickie Scruggs in a lawsuit stretching back 15 years, attorney William Roberts Wilson has moved into the office space that once housed his nemesis’ law firm on Oxford’s Square.

“Ever since watching ‘Intruder in the Dust,’ I’ve wanted an office on the Square,” Wilson said. He had previously worked out of Tuscaloosa, but he said that, after a decade and a half of financial issues, he could afford to make the move.

Faulker’s Intruder in the Dust may have inspired Wilson.  However, it is the similarity of Wilson’s story to what one source called the “social hyporocrisy” and “irresistible comedy” of Twain’s  The Prince and the Pauper that comes to mind.

“Social hypocrisy” and “irresistible comedy” are so common on the Square that Wilson –  a knight of the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows attempting to assume the role of the King of Torts – should feel right at home.

The government made his move even more affordable today when it settled Wilson’s claim Continue reading

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

Y’all reports Scruggs denies bribing Judge DeLaughter in Response to Patterson’s cross-claim in Wilson v Scruggs

SLABBED covered the cross claim filed on behalf of Scruggs’ co-defendant Steve Patterson in Eastland stands behind Motion to Dismiss – Greer files cross-claim for Patterson in Wilson v Scruggs.  Alan Lange at Y’all Politics has a post up on the Response from Dick Scruggs: Scruggs denies Steve Patterson, also denies bribing Judge DeLaughter .  I have no doubt Lange and I share a common commitment to justice and factual reporting even when we hang our hats on different facts, their meaning, and context.  However, there’s no disputing these facts about the Scruggs’ response:

In…[the cross-claim]…Patterson’s attorney writes:

4. Plaintiff’s Complaint alleges that Scruggs is guilty of bribing Judge DeLaughter, and defrauding the plaintiff, by and through Peters, and that those actions caused a favorable result in the Wilson case. Patterson had no involvement at all in those circumstances other than introducing Scruggs to the local counsel, Peters. Patterson received no funds, was not compensated in any way, shape or form and is therefore guilty of no active negligence, but at most, passive negligence (which,he denies), and was completely unaware of the possibility that Scruggs would allegedly perform any, criminal act of any sort to bring potential liability upon himself and others.

However Scruggs responds:

4. The allegations contained in the first sentence of paragraph 4 are denied. Scruggs lacks information sufficient to admit or deny the remaining allegations contained in paragraph 4. Continue reading

Patsy Brumfield – Anybody seen Tim Balducci?UPDATED

The Daily Journal’s Patsy Brumfield has been at the top of her game of late and now she’s looking for Tim Balducci

Timothy Balducci, who turned informant in the Scruggs I judicial bribery case, apparently isn’t in U.S. Bureau of Prisons custody any more.

What that means, I don’t know, but he’s not scheduled to get out of prison until December 2010… Continue reading

Eastland stands behind Motion to Dismiss – Greer files cross-claim for Patterson in Wilson v Scruggs

Big football weekend here in the land of the slabbed; but, no sports channel was covering the settlement game – and one is definitely playing in Wilson v Scruggs.

Almost simultaneously with their settlement with Team Scruggs, Team Wilson filed a weak response to co-defendant Steve Patterson’s Motion to Dismiss – an obvious incentive to settle.

Apparently, it was also incentive for Eastland to stick with the playbook while co-counsel Greer went with the legal equivalent of wild Rebel and filed across-claim for Patterson that suggests there is still more to learn about the money paid Ed Peters:

Patterson’s only involvement in the circumstances surrounding this action was Continue reading

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

Justice Department plan – ensure prosecutors play by rules with evidence

This interesting bit of well-duh news comes from the National Law Journal via How Appealing – a blog linked by Will Bardwell on the all-grown-up version of his blog (gosh I miss Elvis).

Under fire for its handling of the criminal case against former Sen. Ted Stevens, the Justice Department last week outlined a plan to ensure prosecutors play by the rules when dealing with evidence. But some criminal defense lawyers and judges say the reforms don’t go far enough.

On Oct. 13, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer traveled to Seattle to address of panel of lawyers and judges who are considering a change to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that would place more stringent requirements on prosecutors to disclose case information to defense lawyers.

Breuer pitched what he called a “comprehensive approach” to reform — a plan that includes mandatory annual discovery training for all prosecutors and the creation of a new position at Main Justice that will focus on discovery issues. Breuer also said the Justice Department would agree to put existing case law and federal statutes involving information sharing into one rule in the criminal procedure books — making the rule a one-stop shop for disclosure obligations.

But Breuer said the department would fight any effort to require prosecutors to turn over all favorable information to the defense.

The idea of having federal prosecutors throw you a surprise party in court has absolutely no relationship to the concept of justice.  Mr. Breuer doesn’t seem to get that point or several others.

He also played down criticism that prosecutor misconduct is widespread, saying there’s no evidence of that. Continue reading

SLABBED Daily: July 30 all politics is local

With the Washington Post reporting Rove Had Heavier Hand in Prosecutor Firings Than Previously Known, today’s SLABBED Daily looks at the firing of federal prosecutors from the perspective of all politics is local.

…Rove described himself as merely passing along complaints by senators and state party officials to White House lawyers…

The story focuses on three of the nine U.S. Attorneys fired in 2006 – a group that includes Missouri’s Todd Graves, known to SLABBED readers as counsel for Zach Scruggs in the case that became USA v Scruggs, Scruggs, and Backstrom.

Graves, the U.S. attorney in Missouri, was removed after staff members of Sen. Christopher S. “Kit” Bond (R) repeatedly complained to political aides and lawyers in the White House, according to interviews and the inspector general. Rove, who had done political consulting work for Bond earlier in their careers, said in the interview that he had become aware of the turmoil on the eve of President Bush’s visit to the state.

Graves brings the story home; but Dunn Lampton actually brought it closer.  Lampton, who until his recent resignation had been U.S. Attorney for Mississippi’s Southern District  since 2000, was once slated for a pink slip – and that brings us full circle to Rove’s testimony suggesting all politics is local. Continue reading

Tower of Babble – USA v Delaughter and Wilson v Scruggs

60017055With a little more than a month away from Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter’s corruption trial, the U.S. attorney’s office is bringing in witnesses imprisoned for their roles in attempting to bribe a different judge…Records from the Bureau of Prisons show Timothy Balducci has been moved from his prison in South Carolina to a transfer facility in Oklahoma…Balducci was the one who tipped off the FBI to the DeLaughter case.

So, Balducci tipped off the FBI a high stakes game of Let’s Make a Deal and the Minor bribe he offered Judge Lackey stays behind door #2!

The obviously clairvoyant Langston pleads guilty, claims he has all the answers, changes the game to Jeopardy and the Tower of Babble begins to build.  Patterson makes three to plea – but he’s no game changer and doesn’t seem to be much of a player – so, he just babbles.

Two P’s in a pod? Not. But, Peters comes next and pays to play.  The game changes to Charades.  Scruggs appears guilty of attempted flattery but pleads to mailing the Court the paperwork required for Langston and Balducci to make an appearance.  The Tower of Babble with Delaughter not and Witness accounts seem to conflict.

Through his lawyers, Scruggs seemed to discount the prosecution’s case in their response to Wilson last week in the civil action: “Wilson assumes that Scruggs corruptly influenced Judge DeLaughter in his rulings. Scruggs has pleaded guilty to attempting to corruptly influence Judge DeLaughter in his rulings, but Wilson has presented nothing to connect this attempt with actual influence or to any such influence with any harm to Wilson.”

What if Ed Peters falls apart on the stand? This question has been bouncing around in my head for awhile now. Absent a smoking gun email, doesn’t the Government’s entire case rest on the word of Ed Peters? After all, neither Scruggs, nor Joey Langston, nor Balducci, nor Patterson can testify to having a conversation with DeLaughter. What if Peters does not? Similar pro-Scruggs sentiments came out early on Tim Balducci (as he was the only one with contact with Lackey – by design, I might add).

Horrors! What if people have to look at the evidence? Continue reading

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