Breaking! 11th Circuit Court of Appeals GRANTS Scruggses' Petition

You all might remember Scruggs and Scruggs Law Firm petitioning the court for an appeal of Judge Acker’s Order on civil contempt sanctions. On Friday last, the Court granted their petition to appeal. Just the fact that they have agreed to review is cause for speculation since the court is particular about which cases it grants to review. And given the antics of Judge Acker, I hope they give it a thorough review.

With that and the Supremes reviewing the Jones case to decide whether the sides need go to arbitration, maybe Scruggs can get a little justice even while imprisoned.

Supremely surprising events in Jones v Scruggs (Corrected)

Surprising events can turn old news into new – and that’s certainly the case with the latest news about the fee dispute between Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson and Lee and the other member firms of the defunct SKG joint venture group.

Surprising event # 1 came from the Mississippi Supreme Court. The MSC granted the Interlocutory Appeal filed by Dick Scruggs as well as the Motion for Reconsideration of the Interlocutory Appeal filed by the other former member firms of SKG – surprising enough to generate Rossmiller’s mildest post yet about a Scruggs related event that alone was a surprising and welcome event.

News editor Patsy Brumfield had the story for the Daily Journal and Alyssa Schnugg followed in the Oxford Eagle story reported on the blog folo.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has granted Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and former Scruggs Katrina Group attorneys a hearing to decide whether a lawsuit involving Hurricane Katrina litigation should go to arbitration.

In April, Circuit Court Judge William Coleman ruled the law firm of Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson and Lee is entitled to fees and possibly punitive damages arising from their case against the Scruggs Katrina Group for $26.5 million in legal fees from Hurricane Katrina-related litigation. Coleman ruled in favor of the Jones firm because the lawsuit over legal fees led to the attempt by members of the Scruggs Law Firm to bribe Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey — the original judge presiding over the lawsuit.

MSC’s website provided little information and no clues about what will be considered – clues come instead from a folo reader commenting on the Eagle story. Continue reading “Supremely surprising events in Jones v Scruggs (Corrected)”

Lackey and Balducci- the Laurel and Hardy of judicial bribery

As I read the Objections to the presentencing investigative report on Sid Backstrom filed by attorney Frank Trapp, two thoughts came to mind almost simultaneously.

One, that Lackey and Balducci were the Laurel and Hardy of judicial bribery – the this is another fine mess you’ve gotten me into leaders of what never was meant to be; and, the other

Frank Trapp writes like the honorable man he’s reported to be and honors all with his candor – his client, the co-defendants, and the Court – while objecting to the report.

To avoid misunderstanding, these objections are solely to place the conduct in what counsel believes is a fair and accurate statement of the facts and law. It is not to avoid or diminish acceptance of responsibility by Mr. Backstrom. To be clear, whether in the first instant a lawyer offers money or a judge asks for money, the payment of money by a lawyer to a judge is illegal—that is not disputed.

His “fair and accurate statement of the facts” also provides the most coherent account to date of what took place – and what didn’t. You’ll want to read every word. Continue reading “Lackey and Balducci- the Laurel and Hardy of judicial bribery”

Grab your hiking boots – time to wander from Perdigao v Adams & Reese to USA v Scruggs

If you find yourself lost as we wander from NOLA way up to the land of Faulker, worry not – this is not about changing the facts to fit the picture, it’s more of a sight-seeing trip to see if the facts fit the frame.

Among the comments made to the Perdiago update Sop posted today, were several about Perdiago’s allegations about Allstate and Robert Wooley, the former Louisiana insurance Commission who joined Adams & Reese. Take note of section 73 and these two sentences:

Notably absent from Wooley’s list ofpotential clients in his business plan was a “big fish” that was not already a client of the firm. The firm already represented State Farm, the largest homeowners’ insurer in the state. Continue reading “Grab your hiking boots – time to wander from Perdigao v Adams & Reese to USA v Scruggs”

On the outside looking in at “the perspective of honest lawyers”

the honesty of the system in which I work every day is life or death to me. Just as much as my house is. Something that undermines that is just as life-or-death to me as a wind that blows your house away. I can’t live, function, and work in a corrupt legal system…I think there are parts of this you aren’t getting because you don’t understand the perspective of honest lawyers.

Honest and written from the heart – albeit not to me – these comments stand without reference in tribute. USA v Scruggs and the Katrina insurance cases opened a window into the legal system. What those outside sometimes see when looking in has created concern about the integrity of the system as well as the judicial system, and, at times, given rise to questions about the conduct of lawyers relative to these cases.

An honest lawyer is defined by other lawyers as one who follows the rules – and, by extension, a properly functioning judicial system would do likewise. Consequently, once USA v Scruggs was filed, the perspective of honest lawyers was outrage at the idea of another lawyer earwigging or attempting to bribe a judge and insistence the system show no mercy.

In turn, this perspective was reflected in commentary and comments on weblogs, media coverage, calls for reform of the legal and judicial system, and examination of the cases identified with Scruggs – asbestos, tobacco, and Katrina insurance claims are examples that come to mind.

I understand that perspective, I just don’t share it when there is no benefit of doubt or fidelity to innocent Continue reading “On the outside looking in at “the perspective of honest lawyers””

All in this together? I’ll say!

The attorney-client privilege relates to and covers all information regarding the client received by the attorney in his professional capacity and in the course of his representation of the client. Barnes v. State, 460 So. 2d 126, 131 (Miss. 1984). Included are communications made by the client to the attorney and by the attorney to the client. Id. Only the client may invoke the privilege and the attorney has no standing to invoke the privilege if the client does not wish to. Id. Like the attorney client privilege, the work- product doctrine insulates a lawyer’s research, analysis of legal theories, mental impressions, notes, and memoranda of witnesses’ statements from an opposing counsel’s inquiries. Dunn, supra, at 875.

So writes the attorney Grady Tollison filing the Motion to Quash Notice of Depostion and for Protective Order on behalf of his client, Jones who formerly represented McIntosh in McIntosh v State Farm.

Jones has relevant, non-privileged factual information that is highly material to the claims and defenses in this case … about the whereabouts of an original engineering report on the McIntosh property.

Judge Walker granted the motion to quash saying:

State Farm offers nothing but speculation that Jones had any information whatsoever about any original engineering report.

But maybe it was more than speculation?  Mr. Grady Tollison, Jr. also represents Mr. David Stanovich (who was an agent of State Farm) while representing Jones according to the Plaintiffs’ response to motion in opposition by State Farm. Continue reading “All in this together? I’ll say!”