(Zach) Scruggs Nation, March 20

You may have heard that Zach Scruggs, the last man standing in the Scruggs Supernova, has come out with new motions.

My favorite is this one, his motion to move the trial date, which should have contained a subhead reading "Delay: the Lawyer’s Best Friend," and which contains this priceless paragraph:

Most significantly, based on the summonses the court sent out, members of the pool have been notified of their selection and they will, undoubtedly, have a heightened interest in this case. Many in the jury pool now know that Defendant’s co-defendants pleaded guilty in this case, making them susceptible to the inappropriate inference that the co-defendants’ pleas indicate guilt on the part of Defendant. This is particularly true for any potential jurors that read the inaccurate report in a March 14, 2008 article from Jackson’s Clarion-Ledger which indicated that Defendant agreed to surrender his law license as part of Richard F. Scruggs’s plea agreement. A continuance is warranted to give time for the media coverage in this matter to subside and the sensational and misleading stories in this case to fade from the selection landscape.

I’m not sure what exactly the C-L said because they yanked this from their website, whether they said he had agreed to surrender his law license or whether a deal would call for that or what.  But just because the deal didn’t happen does not mean what the C-L said is untrue. Something else might have happened that blew the deal up. 

I also liked this:

A continuance is needed in this case to allow Defendant’s counsel to adequately prepare his defense in light of the recent pleas of his co-defendants. Until the end of last week, Defendant’s counsel were preparing the defense under the assumption that the trial would involve multiple defendants with varying levels of alleged culpability. Undersigned counsel entered their appearance only 8 weeks ago, and will now be responsible for carrying the full load of the trial. Moreover, the very recent pleas of codefendants have significantly changed the strategic and tactical realities for Defendant and his counsel, and additional time is needed to adequately prepare the defense in light of these new realities.

Come on now, we’ve got Mike Moore and these Rigsby sisters lawyers added to the team, isn’t that enough bodies to pull the sled? Also, sounds like their job should be a lot easier now with all the other folks off the field.    

In addition, he wants a James hearing, which is not a karaoke party featuring James Brown music , but rather a determination of whether hearsay statements of co-conspirators should be admitted. Here’s the motion.

Lastly — and I cannot be sure, but this brief did not appear to be filed on a napkin — the Zach Scruggs team wants to exclude prior bad acts evidence, namely anything to do with the Wilson case, in which Joey Langston has pleaded guilty to trying influence Judge DeLaughter.  This is the case, you may remember, where Zach wrote an e-mail to attorney Johnny Jones saying, in part, as follows:

In a May 29, 2006, e-mail obtained by federal authorities, Zach Scruggs told his father’s attorney in the case, John Jones of Jackson, that "you could file briefs on a napkin right now and get it granted." Jones responded in his e-mail, "You have misconceptions about Joey and Tim that I hope ultimately do not need to be explored. … If we win, it will be because the law says we win."

See this post for more details.

Here’s what the Zach Scruggs brief says about this:

Additionally, the government provided counsel with a copy of an email involving Zach Scruggs and Johnny Jones, wherein they discuss the Wilson case; however, nothing in the email suggests Zach’s Scruggs’s knowledge that any quid pro quo (prospective federal judgeship) was being offered to Judge DeLaughter, which is the crux of the government’s offering and the very reason that the government was seeking to introduce the allegation. Hiring someone because he or she has a good relationship with a judge is certainly not a novel concept, and more importantly, not illegal. What is illegal is offering the judge something of value in exchange for some act. No such allegation exists against Zach Scruggs. On February 26, 2008, the Court denied the motion in limine.

There you have it. It’s not illegal to file briefs on a napkin.  Anyone who sees anything wrong with this statement is being inflammatory and creating additional prejudicial media coverage that constitutes a further reason to delay the trial indefinitely. 


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