It is so true: Ashton meet Dick, Dick this is Ashton….

Just a few weeks ago, on September 27, 2011, the Fifth Circuit affirmed a district court’s dismissal of an indictment, in which the Government sought to criminalize speech. U.S. v. O’Dwyer, Slip Op, 2011 WL 4448739 (5th, 2011). There, the Government at least used an unambiguous statute, 18 U.S.C. § 875(c), which criminalizes the interstate communication of certain threats. O’Dwyer sent an email to the chambers of a federal bankruptcy judge, trying to influence him to grant certain relief, including the following language: “suppose I become ‘homicidal’? Given the recent ‘security breach’ at 500 Poydras Street, a number of scoundrels might be at risk if I DO become homicidal.” Id., at *1. The trial court and the Fifth Circuit held that even this scary language designed to influence a judge was protected by the First Amendment, such that the Government’s indictment must be dismissed. O’Dwyer was granted a judgment on the pleadings.

Hi Gang, anything happen while I was out?

Several things in fact but I am internet limited except for my phone so I must be off to the bat cave. Coming up:

We have election day Saturday. Some pundit on Toolman in the morning said he expected low turnout.

George Peterson was kind enough to invite me to his place Saturday night. I’m chasing my teenage boy so I’ll have to pass on it but I appreciate the thought.

I understand where yat hat day was a success. No word yet on PJ day.

I’ve not seen the pdf yet but I understand USA v O’Dwyer was cited in a Dick Scruggs pleading. The ironies are rich.

We have a new episode of Magnum JD coming. Meantime I hear he joined hands with his former partners, sang kumbaya and settled the suits with them including his own Bro.

Secret Agent 99 was been busy so I have a copy of the first CDC suit inspired by River Birch to close the Old Gentilly Landfill.

Finally we have some politics and video poker on tap. We’ve been there and done this once folks. Time to do it again.

Plus there is more. Stay tuned.


Judge Wingate gets it – will Judge Biggers? UPDATED

“Minor and former Harrison County judges Wes Teel and John Whitfield must be resentenced because a federal appeals court vacated their bribery convictions in 2009. The appeals court upheld other convictions, including honest services fraud convictions against each of the men and Minor’s racketeering conviction. Now Wingate is considering motions to vacate the remaining convictions because higher courts have limited the scope of honest services fraud.”

The Sun Herald reports, “U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate delayed the resentencing Monday in Jackson so he can take more time to consider pending motions seeking to throw out all of the convictions in the case.

Judge Wingate gets it! I suspect a lot of others, including a lot of lawyers, don’t – or, more likely, don’t want the law applied in USA v Minor or USA v Scruggs. Minor’s attorney, David Debold of the Washington, D.C., law film Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher…said he knows it’s not easy for a judge to reverse a case this late but it’s the right thing to do in the wake of the high court decision limiting the honest services statute”.

Initially, Minor et al were also convicted of federal funds bribery under 18 U.S.C. § 666. Former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward “Chip” Robertson cited the reversal of those convictions in a brief recently filed on behalf of Zach Scruggs:

…contrary to the Government’s naked assertion, the fact that Judge Lackey was not an agent for federal grant is properly before the Court because that means that Petitioner is “actually innocent” of the 18 U.S.C. § 666 crime alleged in the Indictment See Petition, D.E. 303 at 10-11 (discussing Whitfield v. U.S., 590 F.3d 325 (5th Cir., 2009)).

Both of these cases were very painful for members of the legal profession.  However,  the legal profession’s deafening silence in the face of the 5th Circuit and USSC decisions is painful to those up us who believe none are above – or below – the law.  Equal justice is not a popularity contest!


UPDATE 3-24-11

Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant Paul S. Minor’s Motion to Vacate Convictions (12/17/10)

Defendant Paul S. Minor’s Submission of Supplemental Authority Regarding Motion to Vacate (3/14/11)

Government’s Response to Defendant Paul S. Minor’s Submission of Supplemental Authority Regarding Motion to Vacate (3/17/11)


gotta be the full moon – the howlin’ and jowlin’ “media narrative” about the dismissal of the Farese bar complaint filed by Zach Scruggs

“Once many people believe something and enjoy a significant amount of communal reinforcement, they get very selective about the type of data they pay attention to in the future”.

Fact is seemingly irrelevant to the Patsy Brumfield-wannabes-but-can’t who, like wolves at the sight of the full moon, prefer howlin’ and jowlin’ “communal reinforcement” to informed discussion.

In addition to the Complaint filed by Scruggs and the response filed by his former attorney Anthony Farese, the members of the Committee on Professional Responsibility for the Mississippi Bar Association had an Ethics Opinion drafted by former Bar President Cham Trotter (linked here and below in Scribd’ format).

Read Trotter’s Ethics Opinion, take a look at his attached Curriculum Vitae and see if you, like the Bar Committee, find “No ‘clear and convincing’ evidence” of “inadequate representation”.

SLABBED reports, you decide.

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BREAKING NEWS: Y’all Come, door’s open! – Biggers’ Order responds to Zach Scruggs’ Motion for Depositions

As folks here say, Judge Biggers “just outdid himself “with this Order!

In resolving the issues raised by the petitioner, the court is going to consider evidence in open court from live witnesses in accordance with the Rules of Evidence.The petitioner has presented to the court the names of witnesses he wants to depose, and the government has responded as to why some of the potential witnesses are not relevant to issues in the upcoming hearing. The court will not pre-judge what testimony potential witnesses may give and therefore will not disallow the petitioner to call some witnesses and allow him to call other witnesses; but the court will take up any objections made to questions of witnesses as they may come up from either party in open court based on the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Oxford is definitely the place to be on the 24th of April. Expect standing-room-only if you’re planning to attend the Hearing on Zach Scruggs’ Motion to Vacate! Dick Scruggs, Sid Backstrom, Steve Patterson, Tim Balducci, Judge Lackey, Tom Dawson, Bob Norman, Anthony Farese, and Dick Scruggs, Sid Backstrom, Steve Patterson, Tim Balducci, Judge Lackey, Tom Dawson, Bob Norman, Anthony Farese, and FBI Agent William Dulaney will all be there with Zach.

in perfect harmony – Zach files trio of documents in USA v Scruggs

Maybe the Rule of Law will also sing “in perfect harmony” after the Court considers the trio of documents filed in USA v Scruggs this morning. Patsy Brumfield reports on one –  Petitioner’s Memorandum In Reply to the Government’s Response to Motion of David Zachary Scruggs for Depositions (linked here and in Scribd’ format below) – in Scruggs offers more reasons to question key players under oath.

Scruggs’ new filing insists that advance testimony will help sort out issues for the court, especially from former Circuit Judge Henry Lackey, ex-Booneville attorney Joey Langston and FBI Agent William Dulaney…In today’s motion, which responds to a government motion last week, Scruggs says prosecutors “cannot substitute (their) spin for evidence developed under the crucible of cross-examination of witnesses under oath.

Since the two other briefs filed today lend context to the Scruggs’ Reply, SLABBED looks to these before introducing the arguments set forth in the Reply.

In Petitioner’s Bench Memorandum Regarding Procedural Default (linked here and in Scribd’ format below) Scruggs’ attorney, former Missouri Supreme Court Justice Edward “Chip” Robertson, notes “the Government seems to be laboring under confusion regarding this Court’s jurisdiction to hear the entirety of the issues raised in the Section 2255 Petition” before clearing the confusion with citations of applicable law: (emphasis added)

the Government has repeatedly attempted to narrow the scope of the Court-ordered hearing, most recently to avoid discovery about the truth behind the three issues raised in the Petition. In case there is any doubt about the proper scope of the hearing and the proper scope of necessary and appropriate discovery, Petitioner submits this bench memorandum concisely explaining the law of procedural default.

This Court has three different and independent bases for jurisdiction over this Petition.

Regarding the first Continue reading “in perfect harmony – Zach files trio of documents in USA v Scruggs”

Slight of hand – Government playing trick on Judge Biggers with Response to Zach Scruggs’ Motion for Depositions

Hopefully, Judge Biggers will catch the slight of hand trick when he reads the Government’s Response to Zach Scruggs’ Motion for Depositions – admittedly, I missed it on my first read and only read it again after catching Patsy Brumfield’s story on this morning: Feds insist Scruggs request ‘reckless’ to question key figures under oath.

Prosecutors say Zach Scruggs’ request to take sworn statements from 11 key judicial-bribery case witnesses is “reckless, speculative and legally ineffective.”

Their motion filed late Friday argues that the only people the court should subpoena for live testimony should be Scruggs’ four original co-defendants in the 2007 judicial bribery case that rocked Mississippi’s legal community…

Here’s the trick – the Government wants to substitute affidavits given to counter Zach’s Bar Complaint against his former attorney, Anthony Farese, for the depositions Zach requested in his Motion for Depositions.  While the names may be the same – Langston, Dawson, Sanders, and Norman – Zach’s Motion goes much further than his complaint against Farese.  Not only that, the Government tosses in the affidavits of Oxford attorney Kenneth Coghlan and former Langston law partner Ron Michaels – both supporting Farese in the matter before the Bar, to make the slight of hand trick more believable to Judge Biggers.

However, there are far more significant issues before the Court than those addressed in Zach’s Bar Complaint against Farese – and the Government’s response ignores those issues all but in total.  For example, the Government’s position is Judge Lackey should be given a free pass (another one!): Continue reading “Slight of hand – Government playing trick on Judge Biggers with Response to Zach Scruggs’ Motion for Depositions”

Breaking News: Government Responds to Scruggs’ Motion for Depositions UPDATED

Start reading and I’ll catch up with comments:

Let’s just say that I look forward to reading Zach’s Rebuttal.  The Government’s Response sidesteps the issue of Farese’s dual representation while appearing to address it and glosses over the role of their lackey, Judge Lackey. More importantly, unless I missed the reference, the missing November 19th recording and FBI reports are not addressed at all.  In a word, the Government’s response was “cute”.  Bottom line, fluff is better than snarky but neither are a substitute for justice.

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BREAKING NEWS Judge Biggers wants to know! – Order sets date for Government to respond to Zach’s Motion for Depositions

As short and to the point as he is known to be, Judge Biggers got the week off to a fast start with his Monday morning Order on Zach Scruggs’ Motion for Depositions:

“Upon due consideration, the court orders that the government respond to the defendant’s motion for depositions by Friday, March 11, 2011”.

My “friendship circle” includes an attorney who admits that north Mississippi Federal District Judge Neil Biggers is as hard as they come – but he really likes Biggers.  I recently asked if he thought Biggers had been fair in his treatment of Zach and the Scruggs defendants.  His answer was a “qualified yes” – qualified by “based on the information the Government gave him”.

It’s without question at this point that the Government withheld certain evidence from the Scruggs defendants and Judge Biggers  – and that Biggers, in turn, made decisions based on – incomplete and/or inaccurate information.

In other words, the Government needs to cut the “snark” from its replies and make the admissions necessary to come clean with Judge Biggers.  IMO, those admissions include misrepresenting Zach as “arrogant” (“haughty) when “indignant” (“resentful”) was and is the appropriate word.

“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 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”?”