On the outside looking in at

The release of Curtis Wilke’s book on the “rise and ruin” of Dick Scruggs, “The Fall of the House of Zeus”, has reopened discussion of a subject I addressed in a June 5, 2008 post,  On the outside looking in at “the perspective of honest lawyers”.

As someone who is two-plus years older and still not a lawyer, I remain on the “outside looking in” – although, definitely, both “older and wiser” on “the perspective of honest lawyers” in terms of the anger they feel at Dick Scruggs for tarnishing their profession.  Like all growth, growing “older and wiser” was painful at times.  However, the aches and pains of aging paled to the heartache I felt while gaining wisdom from the anger of  “honest lawyers”.

Simply stated, not all who make the claim are “honest lawyers” but the truly honest are easily identified.  “Honest lawyers” also express anger toward the system of justice that failed in so many ways.  They rage and rail about the “good ole boy network” that closed rank to protect Judge Lackey and remained silent about the government’s conduct.  Honest lawyers seek no advantage and decry a system that viewed Grady Tollison’s contact with Judge Lackey with a closed eye.  Honest lawyers trade on their skill, have no connections to tout, and never ever toot their own horn in public.

Consequently, the belief expressed in my closing statement is one I believe even more today than when I hit “publish”:

To the whatever extent honest lawyers have not been honest people – fair and just in their treatment of all involved in USA v Scruggs and the Katrina insurance cases – they have corrupted the legal system as much, if not more, than those they blame.

My archived post follows: Continue reading “On the outside looking in at”

USA tells Judge Biggers more time needed for response to Zach Scruggs

After pulling a truckload of briefs in the various qui tam cases last week, my desktop was so loaded that I skipped my routine Friday evening check.  One more confession while I’m in this tell-all mood — I actually welcomed the notice of “routine maintenance” that made the PACER system inaccessible most all weekend as I’d begun to feel like the computer version of  of Shel Silverstein’s television-watching Jimmy Jet:

“He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
And his bottom grew into his chair…
And grew a plug that looked like a tail…”

In my eagerness to avoid Jimmy Jet’s fate, I didn’t catch the latest item on the docket of USA v David Zachery Scruggs before I got out of my chair for the weekend.  Patsy Brumfield, however, somehow got word and posted Prosecutors ask for time in Zach Scruggs’ appeal in today’s NEMS360.com”:

“Federal prosecutors in Oxford say they need more direction from Washington before they respond to Zach Scruggs’ motion to vacate his 2008 conviction.”
Hoping the “beach brief”  makes “my butt look smaller”, I raced to the tuned-up PACER and picked up the USA’s Motion for Extension of Time that appears in full below the jump.  Before we go there, let’s examine the USA’s argument that additional time to respond is needed because Zach cited “the United States Supreme Court’s recent Skilling opinion” and:
“… the Department of Justice has promulgated guidelines to federal prosecutors regarding Skilling responses, the undersigned prosecutor has submitted to the Department of Justice an outline of the government’s proposed response, and is awaiting approval…”
Skilling, while opening the door for Zach Scruggs to file his motion, is not the only matter DOJ should consider.  The USA falsely claimed the jurisdiction needed to build a case against Dick Scruggs –  SLABBED explained but it was the 5th Circuit that declared there must be a “nexus between the criminal conduct and the agency,” administering the federal funds: Continue reading “USA tells Judge Biggers more time needed for response to Zach Scruggs”

USA singing for Judge Biggers

“Life’s too short to make a mistake

Let’s think of each other and hesitate…”

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Zach and the “noise makers” – the Zach Scruggs’ Motion to Vacate Conviction

“Humanity is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right, sometimes wrong, but no matter, the crowd follows it.” (Mark Twain)

Yesterday, Patsy Brumfield broke the story of Zach Scruggs’ Motion to Vacate and today she followed with more details in a post on her blog at NEMS360.com.  Patsy found “two elements… especially interesting”.  The element at the top of her list is the government’s conduct, the subject of the ongoing SLABBED conversation about “prosecutorial decision making” and two related posts specific to the subject:  A mind is like a parachute. If it doesn’t open, you’re f#@%*d! and Why do people confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

Patsy’s story set off a lot of “noise”.  However, what is needed –  and what justice requires –  is less noise about Zach and his money and more thoughtful conversation about the content and issues raised in the Motion to Vacate and the 393 pages of the Memorandum of Authorities in Support and Exhibits.

Patsy summarized her interest:

“the government’s early story to the court that Zach Scruggs knew about an alleged scheme to bribe another judge was not true. A magistrate judge and Joey Langston, then a Booneville attorney who pleaded guilty in that scheme, say so in statements under oath”.

Now-retired prosecutor Tom Dawson, in his book “King of Torts,” says that story to the court, that Langston was going to testify to that effect, greatly increased Zach Scruggs’ peril of long prison time and deep financial consequences, should a jury have convicted him of being part of the attempted bribery of Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.

That pressure on Zach Scruggs was key to his guilty plea, most informed observers and Dawson say.  But we don’t learn about the sworn statements contradicting that story until this new document notes the affidavits….

Patsy then adds, “Without the ‘other plot’ story, you’ve got to wonder if Judge Neal Biggers would have agreed with the government to sentence Zach Scruggs to probation, rather than what he got, 14 months in prison” and I do wonder, particularly in light of his Order dismissing USA v Weiner (November 2009).

The agents repeatedly played the roles of inducers in the present case. Their actions were nothing less than blatant, though unsuccessful, attempts to manufacture federal jurisdiction and are reminiscent of the behavior of the agents in one of the seminal cases on manufactured jurisdiction.

Compare that situation to this excerpt from Zach’s Memorandum:

“Although the Government never charged Movant with any crime in the DeLaughter /Wilson case the Government proposed to Continue reading “Zach and the “noise makers” – the Zach Scruggs’ Motion to Vacate Conviction”