BREAKING NEWS – Zach files reply: Cites 5th Circuit and argues what Government

Will update later today.  Just stopping by to link Zach’s [Defendant’s] Reply Memorandum in Support of His Motion to Vacate His Conviction – safe to say he knows his Skilling – and list the points he argues the Government  contest and “therefore effectively conceded”

The Government’s Response in Opposition (D.E. 309) has dramatically narrowed the issues in this case. See, U.S. v. Branch, 91 F.3d 699, 752 (5th Cir., 1996)(where Government’s brief “did not contest” a point raised by a Petitioner, it “therefore effectively conceded that point”). Pursuant to 5th Circuit doctrine, the following claims are no longer contested issues:

•That, under Whitfield v. U.S., 590 F.3d 325 (5th Cir., 2009), the Petitioner is innocent of the three counts of federal programs bribery alleged in the Indictment under 18 USC § 666. With these three counts legal nullities, all that can remain are the honest services counts – and after Skilling v. U.S., these require beyond-a-reasonable-doubt proof that Petitioner bribed or conspired to bribe Judge Lackey.

•That, under U.S. v. Skilling, 130 S.Ct. 2896 (2010), the Court had no jurisdiction to accept a guilty plea nor pass sentence on the misprision of felony to which Petitioner pleaded guilty.

•That the Government misled the Court when it assured the Court that it had 404(b) testimony from Joey Langston that “implicated” Petitioner in any attempt to bribe Judge DeLaughter, a representation that it never sought to correct for two and a half years despite countless opportunities to do so. Continue reading “BREAKING NEWS – Zach files reply: Cites 5th Circuit and argues what Government”

Absolutely amazing – What you can learn reading Wilkie’s “Fall of the House of Zeus”

In an interview with Tupelo journalist Patsy Brumfield appearing on Sunday’s, “Zeus” author Curtis Wilke said,

“There were any number of subplots in the book that could be developed into bigger stories. I chose to concentrate on the Johnny Jones suit and the approach to Judge Lackey in order to keep a strong focus on one case. So Scruggs II, as the prosecutors called it, the case that sent Bobby DeLaughter to prison, does not get a full treatment in “Zeus.”

Wilke’s snapshot of Scruggs II, however, is more than sufficient for readers to see the big picture of the case and the influence it had on the outcome of Scruggs I.  A pretty picture it is not but it confirmed what had previously been rumored:  the legal team  representing Scruggs, Scruggs and Backstrom held a “mini-mock trial…to evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case” – an exercise described on pages 293-294 as producing “unhappy results”:

“the defense…[of the charges related to the bribery of Judge Lackey]…had been overwhelmed  by the introduction of the second case….[the alleged bribery of Judge DeLaughter]…and the suggestion that Scruggs had a history of bribing judges.” (pg. 294)

Allegations of the bribery of Judge DeLaughter first surfaced in the Grand Jury testimony of Tim Balducci:

“Balducci’s information not only imperiled Langston and Peters, it exposed Scruggs to a second charge of bribing a judge.  This opened the door for the government to use the 404(b) provision to show that Scruggs had a predilection for criminal behavior.” (page 264)

However, during a hearing on the Scruggs motion to dismisss Scruggs I charges against Scruggs, Scruggs and Backstrom, attorney John Keker had a brief opportunity to cross-examine Balducci and “pounced on inconsistencies”: Continue reading “Absolutely amazing – What you can learn reading Wilkie’s “Fall of the House of Zeus””

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 “Wilson v Scruggs and the Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows”

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…”

We are all captives of the picture in our head… – so, whose head pictured honest-services fraud?

Prosecutors have used the following subterfuge with alarming success: Threaten a terrified white-collar defendant with a long jail term in a maximum-security prison with violent offenders, unless he or she pleads guilty to honest-services fraud. In return, the defendant will receive a much-reduced sentence in a relatively cushy federal prison camp.

In this way, prosecutors are guaranteed a conviction. They also don’t have to run the risk of a trial by jury. Even judges have become irrelevant, because they essentially rubberstamp the prison sentence the prosecutors recommend. Cagily, prosecutors, in effect, have usurped the entire legal process for themselves.

Although the columnist (h/t Huffington Post) used far fewer words, his take on honest-services fraud is a summary of the Motion to Dismiss the Indictment for Outrageous Government Conduct filed in USA v Scruggs – which, in turn, brought to mind the Lippman quote:

We are all captives of the picture in our head – our belief that the world we have experienced is the world that really exists.

Unflattering pictures of Dick Scruggs and Paul Minor held some very powerful heads captive.  All it took was for each to commit Continue reading “We are all captives of the picture in our head… – so, whose head pictured honest-services fraud?”

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 “Tower of Babble – USA v Delaughter and Wilson v Scruggs”

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”

SLABBED Daily – April 18

We may have to call this the weekend edition – but not for lack of news.

My “to do” list for SLABBED is full and as I can find time, I’ll be posting on and off all weekend.  One big item is adding the lastest filings in USA v Delaughter and a post explaining what these documents suggest about the direction of the case.  Another is an update on Road Home litigation and the implications that has for the insurance industry and Katrina litigation.

We do have an update from the Clarion Ledger on Attorney General Hood’s entry in the case the State Auditor filed against former attorney Joey Langston over the MCI legal fees.

State Attorney General Jim Hood will file a motion for summary judgment within 10 days asking Circuit Judge Winston Kidd to rule against state Auditor Stacey Pickering in the case. Pickering will then have 10 days to respond.

As suspected and mentioned in the SLABBED Daily, Hood’s entry is related to the Constitutional issue of the Attorney General’s sole power to file lawsuits on behalf of the State.

Because this is a State court case,  access to court documents is difficult to impossible – a limitation that also applies to Wilson v Scruggs.  The Clarion Ledger has the latest on that story as well. Continue reading “SLABBED Daily – April 18”

Dancing with the Stars – USA does no Tango with Delaughter

The dance developed in response to many cultural elements, such as the crowding of the venue…

Delaughter made his move in a set of six motions.  Yesterday the government responded with five:






Had to hang my dancing shoes up for the day; and, the last word I had from Sop suggests he had one too many chocolate bunnies.  However, one or both of us will be here later.

of loose lips and sinking ships Part 2 – Balducci’s extraordinary cooperation continues

Balducci’s extraordinary cooperation began when his attempt to bribe Judge Lackey was recorded by the FBI – a bribe that had nothing to do with Dick Scruggs; yet, everything to do with his conviction.

Balducci's "extraordinary cooperation" filed yesterday in Wilson v Scruggs

His continued cooperation was assured by the absence of related charges and the terms of his Plea Agreement:

VIOLATIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT. If defendant violates this agreement, all statements made pursuant hereto will all be admissible against defendant who hereby waives the provisions of Rule II(f) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rule 410 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Defendant may also, in that event, be prosecuted for all federal offenses, including perjury and false statements relating to this plea agreement.

The timely and extraordinary cooperation Balducci provided yesterday adds to the written record in Wilson v Scruggs and the government’s related case, USA v Delaughter. h/t Y’all.