Zach Scruggs files for and gets an appeal.

There has been a fair amount of water go under the USA v Zach Scruggs bridge since I last mentioned it here. While USA v Scruggs no longer captivates the nation the case still attracts local attention including the Sun Herald running Patsy Brumfield’s story on Zach’s appeal this morning. The long story short is Judge Biggers ultimately shot Zach down on the reversal of the guilty plea. Zach now wants to take the issue to the 5th Circuit where I suspect he’ll have less luck than he had with Biggers but Team Scruggs could be setting this whole deal to head to the Supremes though you’d have to rate that as a long shot at this stage of the game.

NMC has been on the latest developments and this post well explained certain aspects of the appeals process. On Friday Judge Biggers granted Zach appeal limited to three issues. Click here for a copy of that order. Click the pic on the left to get a copy of the 30 plus page appeal brief.

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No shit Tom really???

On May 12, 2011  I write it:

Word I get is Balducci wanted Johnny Jones’ slot in the SKG…..

On May 23, 2011 it comes out in the court room per NMC:

When Balducci told Judge Lackey that Balducci had an interest in it, Balducci was thinking (but did not say) that he was hoping to replace Johnny Jones in Scruggs Katrina Group, and stressing about getting paid on the money he was owed.

Never underestimate the damage that can be caused by greedy neophyte lawyers folks. Speaking of lawyers, didn’t NMC say in a now deleted post last July that he didn’t link us because Slabbed was an “unreliable” source of news.  I personally think that was the insurance defense attorney in him talking shit, but who know$ what drive$ a $elf described yellow dog democrat to $hill for a multinational insurer like $tate Farm again$t his fellow citizens that lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Maybe it was them tax liens but who knows…

Stay tuned because I have lots more stuff on the Scruggs saga that has heretofor never seen the light of day. Meantime Patsy Brumfield has a good report on yesterday’s proceedings in the Zach Scruggs matter for those so interested.

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And it all comes tumbling down…..

In late 2008/early 2009 the Nation was captivated by the judicial bribery prosecution of Dickie Scruggs, his son Zach plus the greedy stooges in Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson among others. In a way the genesis of Slabbed lie in those events as Team Insurance, through various shills such as Portland Oregon Lawyer David Rossmiller that took the opportunity to screw over folks down here on the coast whose only “crime” was losing their homes to a hurricane and expecting their insurer to honor their contracts.

There has been a  fair amount about the Scruggs prosecution documented on these pages, mainly by the now on hiatus Nowdy who used the term Just Us justice to describe the behind the scenes crushing of Zach Scruggs in particular and indeed before she departed she wrote of Zach Scrugg’s attempt to have his guilty plea overturned based on the case facts and an intervening Supreme Court decision.

I’ve never had much of an interest in the carrying on of a bunch of power lawyers 300 plus miles away in North Mississippi before the folks down here on the coast got used as cheap props in the Scruggs scandal and believe me I come not to defend Dick Scruggs as he represents the worst of the legal profession in how he conducted himself professionally. That said I’m now beginning to wonder how much company he should have in the federal pen because it is becoming very clear some of Scruggs’ loudest critics aren’t much better people and this includes the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi which even tried to eat its own young in the bogus prosecution of FBI Agent Hal Neilson last year.

I’ve been sitting on information about the Scruggs saga for well over a year.  Frankly with the revelations that the US Attorney’s office in Oxford seemed more interested in cashing via writing a book than doing justice in USA v Scruggs, the more recent revelations of prosecutorial misconduct in the case comes as no surprise. This is a topic that is beginning to call me, especially with news today that AUSA Bob Norman was disqualified by Judge Biggers from USA v Zach Scruggs for withholding information from the court salient to the case.

I personally think Zach knew about the bribe just as surely as the senior folks at Nutt and McAllister did, but I do not think the government had the evidence to prove it.  When things slow down a bit I’m going to review this case. It is becoming too compelling not to take a second look.

Edited 2/19/15

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.

Zach Scruggs files the mother of all motions – Motion for Deposition of all Scruggs defendants and key players UPDATED

Update: Patsy Brumfield reports on Zach’s motion in the Sunday edition of NEMS360What may they say, if Zach Scruggs questions key players?

Skipping the legal argument of Zach’s Motion for Depositions (below in Scribd format) and going straight to what everyone has always wanted to know:

“The following states the name of each person whose deposition is requested, along with illustrative (but not exhaustive) information explaining the discoverable information that person is likely to provide. For the sake of brevity, each entry incorporates the knowledge stated for prior witnesses”.

Sidney Backstrom:

Mr. Backstrom was a co-defendant in this case, who worked in the Scruggs Law Firm across the hall from the Petitioner. Mr. Backstrom has discoverable knowledge concerning the Scruggs Katrina Group and their assessment of the Jones case, whether Petitioner ever knew about an alleged bribery scheme or whether there was any such bribery scheme. This Court has previously suggested that Mr. Backstrom would surely have discussed a bribery scheme with Petitioner (see Petition, D.E. 303 at 33), and Mr. Backstrom will put such speculation to rest. Specifically, Mr. Backstrom can provide context to the November recording, testifying as to whether Petitioner was present during key moments. Mr. Backstrom is also a witness regarding the existence of certain alleged conversations and emails, about which Timothy Balducci has testified falsely.

Mr. Backstrom can also testify to whether Petitioner ever did anything to join the conspiracy, in support thereof, or to conceal the same, along with the state of mind of the Petitioner regarding Judge Lackey’s order compelling arbitration. Mr. Backstrom also has knowledge of exculpatory discussions he had with federal authorities concerning Petitioner both before and after he became a cooperating witness, as well as about the existence or absence of any documentation of such discussions, which should have been disclosed to Petitioner. Mr. Backstrom will also impeach testimony and representations previously given to this Court by both Government witnesses and the Government itself. Mr. Backstrom presently resides in Texas, outside the civil subpoena power of this Court, making a deposition the only practicable way to get his testimony for this Court…(citations omitted)

Richard Scruggs

Mr. Scruggs was the primary defendant in this case, and has discoverable knowledge about the foregoing issues. Mr. Scruggs is also in the best position to testify about who created the alleged bribery scheme, when, and how, and most importantly, whether Petitioner was ever told about that alleged bribery scheme. In addition, Mr. Scruggs knows whether Petitioner was ever informed about the $40,000 and $10,000 payments to Mr. Balducci, or whether Petitioner was informed that the legal work assigned to Mr. Balducci on a Hurricane Katrina case was a mere sham, as the Government alleges, to provide cover for reimbursing the alleged bribery funds.

Mr. Scruggs can also testify to whether Petitioner ever did anything to join the conspiracy, in support thereof, or to conceal the same. This testimony will also serve to impeach testimony and representations previously given to this Court by both Government witnesses and the Government itself. Mr. Scruggs resides in a Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky, outside the civil subpoena power of this Court, making a deposition the only practicable way to get his testimony for this Court…(citations omitted)

Zach also seeks to depose Steven Patterson,Timothy Balducci, Judge Henry Lackey, William Delaney, Joseph Langston, Anthony Farese, Tom Dawson, Judge David Sanders, and Robert Norman – specifics below the jump. Continue reading “Zach Scruggs files the mother of all motions – Motion for Deposition of all Scruggs defendants and key players UPDATED”

AUSA Bob Norman loses his grip – throws Tom Dawson under the bus and rolls over Judge Biggers in Government’s Response. Zach’s Reply calls for Government’s backup!

After it took one Court order, one 30 day-extension, and a total of 77 days for the Government to respond to Zach Scruggs’ Motion to Vacate, Judge Biggers ruled on Zach’s Motion for Discovery before the Government filed any Response at all.

However, haste makes waste – and in its haste to produce the one-day-wonder filed today, the waste was former AUSA Tom Dawson who went under the bus as the Government rolled on.

Dawson is co-author of the “impeccably researched” Kings of Tortsa “true story…”.  Zach Scruggs’ Motion for Reconsideration claims:

Only with the publication of these facts in 2009 did Petitioner Zachary Scruggs learn that the Government induced his own attorney to procure a witness that the Government assured the Court and Petitioner would testify against Zachary Scruggs, a witness that created an “insurmountable” challenge to his defense, and undermined his rights to effective counsel and fair trial. The purpose of the requested discovery is to probe those murky depths, to determine whether the Government affirms or denies those facts provided by Mr. Dawson. If the Government now concedes that Mr. Dawson’s account is true, then these questions can be dispatched quite quickly.

Chief among those facts cited by Scruggs is that “Mr. Dawson’s 2009 book further explains that the Government proceeded with nearly a month of secret negotiations, using Mr. Farese to secure Mr. Langston’s plea and agreement to cooperate with the Government, all without notifying the Petitioner, the other defendants, the other joint defense counsel members, or the Court about the conflict the Government had created.

In the Government’s Opposition brief (below in Scribd format), ND Mississippi AUSA Bob Norman refutes the truth of Dawson’s account:

Let us be clear. There were no month-long secret negotiations preceding Joey Langston’s plea. There has been no “adverse testimony” from Mr. Langston. There is therefore no conflict.

By all means, “let’s be clear”- and for clarity we turn to Zach’s Reply (below in Scribd format), filed before the ink was dry on the Government’s Response: Continue reading “AUSA Bob Norman loses his grip – throws Tom Dawson under the bus and rolls over Judge Biggers in Government’s Response. Zach’s Reply calls for Government’s backup!”

Zach files Motion for Reconsideration – will the usual noise from north Mississippi follow?

Here we go! Patsy Brumfield, who isn’t noise, had a short story up on NEMS360.com:

Zach Scruggs wants Senior U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. to reconsidering allowing him to seek new evidence related to his 2008 conviction.

The new evidence, Scruggs insists in a motion filed Wednesday, did not exist when he pleaded guilty and went to prison for knowing about an illegal conversation between then-New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci and Circuit Judge Henry Lackey.

This text from the Motion is significant and, IMO, should be read before the “lacunae” (a gap or place where something is missing, e.g. in a line of argument) or the discussion of “the new evidence that did not exist” when Zach entered his plea: (The Motion with all Exhibits, 119-pages total, follows below in Scribd format.)

Even with these lacunae, it bears emphasis that after all the facts were put on the table, it became clear to the Government that Petitioner was innocent of any involvement in bribery, and those charges were voluntarily dismissed. At that time, the Government repeatedly represented to this Court orally and in the Factual Basis that “all the facts and circumstances” of this petitioner’s conduct amounted to mere earwigging, not bribery. Plea Hearing Tr. 3/21/208 at 8 (Mr. Sanders), Sentencing Hearing Tr., 7/2/08 at 5 (Mr. Dawson). The purpose of much of the Petitioner’s propounded discovery is to discern what factual basis exists for the Government now to say the opposite.

Amazingly, it was in reading prosecutor Tom Dawson’s book that Zach learned of  “new evidence” giving cause to open Discovery. (I wonder if Judge Biggers learned something new, too, assuming he read the book)

Langston and Farese made a desperate pitch for immunity, offering to testify against Scruggs in the Delaughter case. They argued that the value of Langston’s testimony would cause Scruggs’s collapse in both cases, resulting in guilty pleas. The specter of Scruggs’s own lawyer testifying against him would be insurmountable. (Petition Exh. C., at 188.) Continue reading “Zach files Motion for Reconsideration – will the usual noise from north Mississippi follow?”

Breaking: Zach Scruggs gets 14 months in prison for failing to report an attempt to influence a state court judge (UPDATED)

Sun Herald reporting

OXFORD –Zach Scruggs gets 14 months in prison for failing to report an attempt to influence a state court judge.

His father, Dickie Scruggs, was sentenced to the maximum 5 years in prison Friday for conspiring to bribe the judge. U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr. presided over the case.

Clarion Ledger

The son of powerful trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs will like his father will be headed off to prison next month, a federal judge ruled today.

Although federal prosecutors recommended probation, U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers sentenced Zach Scruggs, 33, to 14 months in prison and fined him $250,000 for having after-the-knowledge of a scheme to bribe a Lafayette County judge to get a favorable ruling in a legal fees dispute.

Continue reading “Breaking: Zach Scruggs gets 14 months in prison for failing to report an attempt to influence a state court judge (UPDATED)”