Scruggs Nation, February 22: home sour home

There’s no place like home . . .  gulp. Or so Dickie Scruggs and the other alleged bribery conspirators seemed to think when they filed their motion for a change of venue for their scheduled March 31 trial. 

However, Judge Biggers has turned that motion down, apparently along with all the others (the news stories I read are unclear about the fate of the motions to sever the trials of Zach Scruggs and Sid Backstrom from that of Dickie Scruggs, but since they don’t affirmatively say the motions were granted, I’m assuming those motions also were denied). Here’s an update from the Daily Journal, and here’s one from the Clarion-Ledger

There was a new motion filed in USA v. Scruggs (Northern Mississippi edition) yesterday — a motion by the government to empanel an anonymous jury and sequester jurors for the length of the trial.  Let’s take a look at the factors a court ponders when considering whether the names and background information about jurors should be withheld from the parties, and you see if you can pick out which factors the government is worried about:

(1) The defendant’s involvement in organized crime;

(2) The defendant’s participation in a group with the capacity to harm jurors;

(3) The defendant’s past attempts to interfere with the judicial process or witnesses;

(4) The potential that if convicted the defendants will suffer a lengthy incarceration and substantial monetary penalties; and

(5) The extensive publicity that could enhance the possibility that jurors’ names would become public and expose them to intimidation and harassment.

If your eyes came to rest first on number 3, you have good instincts.  The government also cited reasons number 4 and 5.

The motion also requests that the jury be selected from across the Northern District and sequestered, to reduce the chance of people having been exposed to pretrial publicity (seems like a strange assumption in the day of the internet) and — the motion says — to prevent the influence on jurors of publicity during the trial.  Not to mention that keeping the jury in the company of U.S. Marshals reduces the chance someone tries offer them a bushel of sweet potatoes.



Filed under Industry Developments

10 Responses to Scruggs Nation, February 22: home sour home

  1. Tim

    All I know is all my “sweet potatoes” are reported to the IRS and they get one third of them. If Judge Lackey got sweet potatoes does he have to report them come April 15?

  2. Gavin Stephens

    Will rule by Tuesday on separate trials for Zach and Backstrom; on the government’s “prior bad acts” strategy; and on evidence from wiretaps and a search of the Scruggs office.

  3. nomiss

    Tim, I don’t think Judge Lackey got to keep Balducci’s “sweet potatoes.”
    However, it would be interesting to back-track those “sweet potatoes” to see if IRS ever got their share.

  4. DeltaNative

    You think the U.S. Marshalls will be keeping close tabs on P.L. Blake during the trial regardless of the outcome of the motion to sequester?

  5. Gavin Stephens

    I predict that he rules FOR sequestering the jury, but against anonymous. There is nothing to support jury tampering. Judges, well that is what as issue, but no where is any suggestion of evidence that they have ever attempted to reach out and touch a juror. I think he splits the blanket and without much comment.

  6. pbpike

    Factor Number 3 incorprates “defendant’s past attempts to interefere with the judicial process…” It’s not limited strictly to witness tampering. I bet Biggers makes the jury anonymous. He should.

  7. jim

    Delta, will P.L. appear as a witness for the defense or the prosecution?

  8. Gavin Stephens

    I understand PBPIKE, I can read, but I also know Biggers, and I don’t think he will go for anonymous, it is a rare case, and it subjects this case to automatic review, review is abhorred by judges and I believe he will draw the line at anonymous. Just my personal belief. We shall see.


    David, have you seen the movie Michael Clayton? Just came out on video. Reminds me of the State Farm cases on the gulf coast. The female corporate attorney is almost true to life.


    The St Patrick’s Day parade in Jacktown is approaching Sat. March 15. The legendary Sweet Potato Queens put on quite a spectacle every year at this event. See
    Word is there will be a float with “King Timothy” throwing the tubers to the masses, assisted by Lords Dickie, Zack and Sid, and Princes Henry, Jim, Steve, Joey, Ed, PL and Bobbby. I can attest that Steve in tights will not be a pretty sight. FBI agents in Blues Bros. regalia will be escorting the float.