There are lots of developments that need updating, so I am putting up this second post today to accommodate them all.
— Mississippi State Auditor Phil Bryant, on December 20, filed a lawsuit in Hinds County against the Langston Law Firm, Joey Langston and Tim Balducci seeking a return of some $18 million in funds recovered from the MCI tax litigation. A copy of the complaint can be seen by clicking here.
In the complaint, Bryant alleged that $118 million was recovered in a settlement of that litigation, but that $4 million was illegally donated to an organization called the Children’s Justice Center of Mississippi, and $14 million was illegally paid to Langston and Balducci as attorney fees.
— In a development I did not note until I saw it mentioned in this Anita Lee story in the Sun Herald, Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander earlier this month quashed a subpoena by E.A. Renfroe issued in the Renfroe v. Rigsby case in Alabama for the depositions of Dickie Scruggs and others from the Scruggs Law Firm. Judge Alexander is a magistrate in the Northern District of Mississippi, where Dickie Scruggs and his son, Zach, are facing federal charges relating to an alleged attempt to bribe Judge Henry Lackey.
If you look at the case number on the top of these documents and the caption, you can see this decision is in the Northern District of Mississippi, not in the Northern District of Alabama, where the Renfroe case is filed.. The reason is apparently that Renfroe moved to compel the depositions in the Northern District of Mississippi. A special case number was assigned just for the Scruggs motion to quash — this is explained in the text of the motion — and I have not seen these documents posted on the Renfroe docket in Alabama. Ironically, the Scruggs motion to quash was filed on the same day Dickie and Zach Scruggs were indicted.
Also ironically, the Scruggs motion in the Renfroe case is very similar to one made just a few days ago in McIntosh v. State Farm, in the Southern District of Mississippi, to try to overturn Magistrate Judge Robert Walker’s order requiring Dickie and Zach Scruggs to sit for depositions by State Farm and Renfroe. Judge Alexander handed down her order quashing the Renfroe subpoenas on December 3, before Judge Walker ordered that the depositions of the Scruggses take place, and whether Walker was aware of Judge Alexander’s order I do not know, but it is not mentioned in the Walker order.
Renfroe is seeking review of Judge Alexander’s order, saying her ruling is based only on the Scruggs supporting memorandum, with no opposition brief filed, and that she did not have all the facts. Among these facts, Renfroe claims, are that Judge Alexander found Renfroe could just as easily obtain the desired information from the Rigsby sisters themselves, but Renfroe has already deposed them and says they gave evasive answers, had an inability to remember and asserted privilege to avoid questions.
— I have had requests to follow up on something in State Farm’s recent motion to disqualify the Katrina Litigation Group (formerly known as the Scruggs Katrina Group) from Katrina cases. I wrote about the motion in this post, which contains copies of some of the relevant pleadings. The requests for more information relate to something in the supporting legal memorandum — references to supposedly abusive exercise of the subpoena power by the SKG and one of its attorneys, leading to admonishment by courts for these practices. The memorandum in support of the motion to disqualify did not go into great detail, but referred back to another pleading, a memorandum in opposition to an amended complaint in the Shows v. State Farm case, and exhibits attached to the memo. Below is that opposition brief and the exhibits, so you can read and judge for yourself.
— Lastly, the defendants in the bribery case have filed a motion to compel the government to produce additional evidence. Click here to read it. The motion reveals that the government produced additional discovery on the day after Christmas, including 13 cassette tapes containing recorded conversations between Balducci and Judge Lackey, two FBI interview reports, telephone records, a compact disc with a pen register and trap and trace data, and 13 CDs containing photographic evidence and audio and video recordings of meetings between Balducci and Judge Lackey.
The motion says the government has not produced transcripts of the recordings yet, and many of the recordings are hard to understand. Whether this is wishful thinking, spin or fact remains to be seen. The government also has not yet produced, according to the motion, the affidavit of a special agent in support of a September 25, 2007 application for a wiretap on Balducci’s phone, nor any of the materials seized during the November 27 raid of the Scruggs Law Firm offices or the December 10 raid of Joey Langston’s offices. I haven’t heard what, if any, discovery the defense has produced to the government.