USA v. Scruggs has had a flurry of motions in recent days that will be argued at a hearing tomorrow, and then you know what Monday is — last day for plea bargains. Here are the motions.
Motion to sever. This motion, which is a second try at coming up with reasons why the trial of Sid Backstrom and Zach Scruggs (Zach also endorsed or joined in the motion) should be separate from that of Dickie Scruggs, contains this interesting passage:
The impaneling of an “anonymous jury” is seldom used in American trials. Any resident who pays attention to the various “trials of the century” that have garnered extensive media attention, or who watches “Court TV,” “Law and Order,” “Perry Mason,” or even “Boston Legal” knows it. Impaneling an anonymous jury denies Mr. Backstrom his right to a jury of known individuals.
I love this! Because I talk about Boston Legal all the time on this blog and how it’s my chief source of knowledge about criminal procedure — which is why everything I know about criminal procedure is wrong. For example, from watching that show, I would expect the trial to take roughly 35 minutes, and to feature substantial evidence of how global warming has led to a longer growing season for sweet potatoes, along with mandatory stupid closing rants about some politics du jour.
There also is a footnote about how blogs have gone with Scruggsurround Sound, and how this "incredible" level of publicity about Dickie Scruggs is endangering a fair trial for the other defendants, who — I guess this would be the implication — are allegedly much less allegedly involved. Well, even with the number of readers way up, you have to keep some perspective — the number is small compared to the population of Mississippi, many readers are not in Mississippi at all much less northern Mississippi and readers tend to be hard-core information seekers and those who in some way would never be picked for a jury in the first place because of some self-interest in these proceedings, because of who they work for or because they hold very strong opinions about what is going on. As far as the level of publicity from mainstream media, with a few exceptions, it’s not very high or very aggressive.
One clarification in the footnote: my readership isn’t up "15-20 more readers" as it says there, I estimated 15 to 20 times more. I know, I know, it’s just a typo, no biggie, I make them all the time myself. Just sayin’. Anyway, I place no faith in numbers, could be more, could be less. As you know, I was happy writing about Katrina litigation and insurance coverage issues, and Scruggs just happened to melt down on my watch.
Exhibit C (partial transcript of the February 20 motion hearing, featuring testimony by Tim Balducci)
Motion to reconsider anonymous jury. This motion has a long section about how inflammatory and pervasive the Scruggs coverage has been, and this section, with the exception of a few points I would agree with, is completely wrong.
Let me put it to you this way: say a doctoral candidate in media studies wrote a dissertation on how the mainstream media in Mississippi has been super-aggressive, coming out with investigative stories every couple days on Scruggs, really blowing the coverage out. Do you think this person could defend this malarkey against challenge? Good Lord, wake up and smell the sweet potatoes! There’s hardly been any coverage at all compared to what there should be.
And that stuff about blog readership and the number of people reading the papers? Come on, if you think any blog involved in the day to day Scruggs coverage has had 222,000 people reading it in the past few weeks, you need an intervention and a reintroduction to reality. All those numbers cited? They are all fake. You can measure stuff with any number of deceptive statistics — blog sitemeters are notorious for inflating the traffic to make bloggers feel good about themselves. Same with newspaper circulation figures and online numbers. That’s why I pay no attention to those kinds of things.
I will agree with one thing, however, and that is the disgusting nature of some online comments noted in the brief. I won’t publish garbage like that, and most of the idiots who would write something like that don’t even try me anymore. No matter what we think of what allegedly happened, we are still talking about our fellow human beings here, and let’s remember — each of us is capable of good and evil. That’s why we punish evil — to guard against our tendency to want to do it.