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”

The Daily Slab – March 25 (Updated)

Check out the comments reader Steve has added to  A bit more on $enator Chri$ Dodd’$ ties to offshore reinsurers as we follow the $$$$$$$$.  Fascinating information and incredible research – Sop and I shout out a big Thank You.

Several news items with updates on topics we’ve covered were posted during the day yesterday and are linked below in no particular order:

Any other time, one or more of these items would have be the subject of a post – and maybe will be one day; but, for now, we’re just keeping readers up to date on current news and reporting  breaking news in posts.  As David Rossmiller said so well, “Work is the curse of the blogging class”.

Welcome back Zach!

Patsy Brumfield has the story for the Daily Journal.

Zach Scruggs, convicted for his part in the scheme to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City, is out of federal prison and assigned to a community re-entry facility in Tupelo. An earlier report, which said he was in Montgomery, Ala., was not accurate. Inmates in the Tupelo center technically are under Montgomery’s jurisdiction, and that’s why on the Bureau of Prison’s web site it shows him there. His custody location is noted on Aug. 19 is his projected release date, the site shows.

Cheryl Dennings with BOP in Atlanta said Scruggs was moved Tuesday from a low-security prison in Forrest City, Ark. to Tupelo as he prepares to “transition” back into society. As soon as he finds a job and gets various other details approved, like driving a car, he will work away from the center and return each night.

Although an Internet site speculated Scruggs may have been seen in Oxford on Tuesday, Dennings said that wasn’t likely since she believes he was brought to Tupelo directly from Arkansas.

The just-us justice of north Mississippi challenges the meaning of “likely” on a regular basis.  Today, for example, the Clarion Ledger is reporting the previously unlikely move of Judge Delaughter’s April trial to Oxford.  Late yesterday, the Ledger reported the even more unlikely, but long suspected, grant of immunity to former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters.

So, while Peters and his immunity were lunching with the current DA, Sid Backstrom and his integrity remained confined in Arkansas – and some dare call it justice when it’s just-us.

Stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage.

In that light, true justice emerges as those guilty of  just-us justice serve a life sentence – forever confined by the limits of their small and narrow minds.   Continue reading “Welcome back Zach!”

Mississippi’s just us justice – final

Patsy Brumfield of the Journal reports on today’s events in the just-us-justice system of Mississippi.

Timothy Balducci and Steven Patterson will do prison time, despite their cooperation into the infamous conspiracy to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.

Their sentences were set today by Senior U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. today at the federal courthouse in Oxford.

• Balducci, formerly of New Albany, will serve 24 months in prison. Balducci was given no fine, because records showed he could not pay one.

• Patterson of New Albany will serve 24 months in prison. Patterson was also given a $150,000 fine.

Justice or just-us-justice?  It’s really hard for me to say –  not for lack of thought or thought-provoking comment from others here on the blog and off-blog as well.  However, there often is a difference between justice as commonly defined and the sometimes just-us-justice here – a difference that is one of the many that make Mississippi the “State of Paradox”.

We’ve birthed the blue; performed the first successful heart transplant: and, bottled the firt coca-cola – but even considering USA v Scruggs and all its implications, we are better people in a better place with a better legal system than that of our past. Some would disagree but none could argue the point with fact.

Lack of fact has never been a barrier for the low-literate but language-rich story-telling population of the “State of Paradox”.   Here, the direct descendants of the first Mr. Right (fn:Always) and his Mrs. (nee Promise you-won’t-tell-another-living-soul But) have informed and entertained  for generations. In doing so, these story-tellers have defined and devined how the outside world views Mississippi and distorted the outside world to those here.

Just-us-justice established the practice of  selective disgrace during a period in the history of the “State of Paradox” when it was not disgraceful for one man to own another – just doing business. As the then wealth of the State evolved into generational poverty, people began to trade on favor – a transaction that makes one man’s word another man’s bondage with the ever present threat of public disgrace from a legal flogging. Continue reading “Mississippi’s just us justice – final”

Biggers recommends Arkansas for Zach UPDATED

Anita Lee reports Judge Bigger’s has responded to Zach’s request to serve his sentence in Arkansas – but the news that caught my eye was mention Dick Scruggs would serve his sentence there as well.

U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr. is now recommending that former attorney Zach Scruggs be sent to prison in Ft. Smith, Ark., where his father, former attorney Dickie Scruggs, also is expected to begin serving a five-year sentence Monday.

Kentucky, I gather is out. (see update at end of post)

Biggers said he was recommending the Arkansas prison for the convenience of Scruggs family members who want to visit. Both Scruggses initially requested that they serve their time at a minimum-security prison in Pensacola, but the Bureau of Prisons would not send Dickie Scruggs there because he has a pilot’s license and an airfield is located nearby.

A third defendant in the judicial bribery case, former attorney Sidney A. Backstrom, also is scheduled to begin serving his 28-month sentence Monday at the minimum-security prison in Ft. Smith.

h/t to justme for letting us know the Sun Herald is now reporting Dick Scruggs will serve his sentence in Kentucky. The quote above was copied from the earlier version of the story and pasted in FYI but the link now goes to different story with Biggers recommendation in pdf posted but no mention of correction. However, when you go to the link in this story, you can see the quote in the clip.

News and views re: Scruggs, Scruggs, and Backstrom UPDATED

The Daily Journal reports

Court documents released today show Dickie will spend his 60 months in a federal facility in Ashland, Ky., while Zach will spend his 14 months in Pensacola, Fla.

Item #1 – or rather Items #1 and #2 – are identical motions regarding the recent deposition of Dick Scruggs and his son Zach filed by State Farm in the McIntosh case.

COMES NOW, the Defendant, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (hereinafter “State Farm”), by and through its counsel of record, and files this, its Motion for Leave to File its EmergencyMotion to Compel Richard Scruggs and supporting Exhibit A [Richard Scruggs deposition transcript taken July 22, 2008] under seal, and would show unto the Court as follows, to-wit:

Counsel for State Farm took the deposition of Richard Scruggs in this case on July 22, 2008.

Counsel for Richard Scruggs has stated that they intend to move this Court to seal Mr. Scruggs’s deposition transcript. State Farm is, therefore, as a courtesy to Mr. Scruggs, asking that this motion be filed under seal, only so as not to frustrate and render moot the relief Mr. Scruggs seeks. State Farm does so without prejudice to, and without waiver of, any position it may take on Mr. Scruggs’s motion to seal.
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, for the foregoing reasons, State Farm respectfully moves this Court to enter an Order allowing State Farm to file its Emergency Motion to Compel Richard Scruggs (including Exhibit A) under seal pending ruling on Richard Scruggs’ motion to seal his deposition transcript.

Go figure. However, if State Farm has added common courtesy to its legal strategy, I want to be the first to offer praise and positive reinforcement. Continue reading “News and views re: Scruggs, Scruggs, and Backstrom UPDATED”

Backstrom to report to Arkansas facility August 4

Anita Lee has the story along with a pdf of the letter of assignment.

Attorney Sidney Backstrom has been notified that he should report to a low-security prison camp in Arkansas to spend 28 months in prison for conspiring with Dickie Scruggs to bribe a state court judge.

Backstrom had asked when he was sentenced to serve his time in Arkansas because he will be near his wife’s family. His attorney was notified by federal court officials that he should report by 2 p.m., Aug. 4 to the Federal Correctional Institution Satellite Camp in Forrest City, Ark.

There’s bound to be something appropriate to add but I can’t think what it might be and so I simply offer Anita’s story with nothing else said.

Breaking News – Attorneys for Zach Scruggs file Memorandum noting distinctions in his plea UPDATED

According to the Sun Herald, attorney for Zach Scruggs, Dickie’s son and law partner, have filed a Memorandum in addition to an earlier response to the Pre-sentence Investigation Report submitted on his behalf.

In his bid for probation in a judicial bribery case, attorney Zach Scruggs is trying to distance himself from the crimes of his co-defendants, including his father, lawyer Dickie Scruggs.

A government sentencing report overlooks the fact that Zach Scruggs, a young attorney and father of two, did not plead guilty to participating in the conspiracy to bribe Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey, his attorneys argue.

The government’s pre-sentence report says he “was in the conspiracy from the beginning and was aware of the efforts to corruptly influence Judge Lackey.”

While Zach’s attorneys point out the claims made in the PRI are contrary to the factual basis of his plea, it was evident Judge Biggers has accepted those claims in the report as fact instead based on remarks he made Continue reading “Breaking News – Attorneys for Zach Scruggs file Memorandum noting distinctions in his plea UPDATED”

The $50,000 question about the downfall of Dickie Scruggs

The amount of the bribe – small potatoes to a man with the wealth of Dickie Scruggs and, as it turned out, sweet ones at that – accounted in large part for the stunned reaction to his indictment captured in the Wall Street Journal interview with author John Grisham.

This doesn’t sound like the Dickie Scruggs that I know. . . . When you know Dickie, and how successful he has been, you could not believe he would be involved in such a boneheaded bribery scam that is not in the least bit sophisticated.”

The juxtaposition of his wealth, the small amount of money involved in the bribe, and a needless crime created a picture that remained out of focus even as he was sentenced.

…the amount of the bribe, in this case, that was paid, $50,000 – – 40,000 actually delivered and $10,000 more written, transferred to Balducci to supposedly give to Judge Lackey…The Court does not feel that $50,000 is – – is a reasonable figure to use in calculating the seriousness of this crime.

While reading around this morning, I found a comment that sharpened the picture a bit. Continue reading “The $50,000 question about the downfall of Dickie Scruggs”

“A rich man is just a poor man with money” – Scruggs denied right to equal justice

There is little irony in W.C. Fields providing the title quote as the line between comedy and tragedy is thin. The extent to which the wealth of Dick Scruggs was considered in his sentencing was nothing short of a tragic violation of his Constitutional right to equal justice – and that’s far more reprehensible than anything Scruggs did.

And yet you – – you neither thought you needed money or did need money; yet you committed a reprehensible crime which, in my opinion, is one of the most reprehensible crimes that a lawyer can commit, the corruption of the rule of law which he’ s sworn to uphold…

Another thing that doesn’t make any sense – – well, it makes your crime more reprehensible is the justice system has made you a rich man; the court system has made you a rich man. And yet you have attempted to corrupt it…

The concept of equal justice is the bedrock of democracy, articulated as early as 430 B.C. by Pericles.

Our constitution…favours the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy. If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences… Continue reading ““A rich man is just a poor man with money” – Scruggs denied right to equal justice”