“Will the April 25th hearing become the trial that never happened”?

Bullseye! Patsy Brumfield hit dead center with Zach Scruggs hearing could unveil additional information for NEMS360.com. A look at the transcript of Zach’s plea hearing indicates Zach’s Motion to Vacate, like Brumfield’s take on the case,  is right on target.

I didn’ t conspire to bribe Judge Lackey in connection with an arbitration order, and I would have stopped it had I known.

However, I did have some knowledge that Tim Balducci had a close personal relationship with Judge Lackey, and that he used that personal relationship to have improper ex parte contacts with the judge regarding the order. Such improper contacts, left unchecked, can – – and in this case did – – deprive the people of the state of Mississippi of fair and honest services.

Nowadays, two significant events make Zach’s “crime” what it was at the time – an ethical violation. The first of these events was Continue reading ““Will the April 25th hearing become the trial that never happened”?”

Skimming the surface – honest services, honesty, and yatchs

Although I spend the winter dreaming of “summertime, when the living is easy”, the summer months are the busy season of my “day job” – months full of days like today when there is little time for more than skimming the surface of what would otherwise be a series of posts.

For example, the conviction of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman will not be among the “avalanche of legal challenges” expected to follow the recent USSC ruling on “honest services”.  The Court made certain of that:

In a one-sentence order, the Supreme Court instructed the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to review the convictions of  Richard Scrushy,  the former CEO of HealthSouth, and former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman…

Scrushy and Siegelman were convicted on bribery and corruption charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Middle District of Alabama in 2006. The government alleged Siegleman had improperly appointed Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for Scrushy donating $50o,000 to a campaign for  a state lottery that Seigelman supported…

Siegelman and Scrushy have maintained their innocence. Their attorneys have argued that donations the health care business executive made to the then-governor’s lottery fund and Scrushy’s later appointment to the Alabama health board wasn’t criminal, just ordinary politics.

Speaking of honesty, Mississippi-born Jimmy Buffett recently told Anderson Cooper that he knows “liars when I hear them”: Continue reading “Skimming the surface – honest services, honesty, and yatchs”

Louisiana readies for change in "honest services" with new "sweet potato" processing plant

As the rest of the nation ponders the implications of the USSC decision narrowing “honest services” to cases involving alleged bribes and kick-backs, our friends in Louisiana stand ready to open what agriculture giant “ConAgra thinks… is the first factory dedicated to sweet potatoes in North America”.

In Skilling v. United States, Justice Ginsburg’s majority opinion acknowledged that in prior case law there was “considerable disarray” about what it means to deprive omeone of honest services, at least at the outer boundaries of the doctrine.  But six justices agreed that at its core, the doctrine clearly prohibits schemes involving bribes and kickbacks.  The prototypical honest-services fraud case, according to the Court, involves a public official who accepts a bribe or kickback from a third party in exchange for awarding a contract; even if the government incurs no tangible loss, it has been deprived of the official’s honest services…

The implications of the Court’s holding that the honest-services theory of mail fraud encompasses only bribery and kickbacks are significant, to say the least.  The government should expect an avalanche of legal challenges on both direct and collateral review.  Any defendant whose conviction possibly rests on an honest- Continue reading “Louisiana readies for change in "honest services" with new "sweet potato" processing plant”

Honest Services (part 1) – a Supremely interesting concept

An anti-corruption law that has been central to the convictions of numerous public officials and corporate executives in recent years could be at risk of being struck down or narrowed after it was met with extreme skepticism by the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday.

TPM reported on the arguments before the Court and the Court’s reaction:

The Supreme Court yesterday [Tuesday, December 8, 2009] heard arguments in two separate cases related to the law — one involving [Conrad] Black, who was convicted of defrauding his company, and the other involving Bruce Weyhrauch, the Alaska GOP legislator convicted for failing to disclose that he had solicited business from an oil-services company with business before the legislature. According to the New York Times, justices from both the court’s liberal and conservative wings showed outright hostility to the law, suggesting that they saw it as overly vague. Continue reading “Honest Services (part 1) – a Supremely interesting concept”