By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – Former Oxford attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs’ conviction in the DeLaughter judicial bribery case likely heads to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Wednesday, Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson dismissed Scruggs’ motion to vacate the 2009 conviction.
His decision came one day after Scruggs’ attorneys asked him to decide the appeal so, if the judge agreed to vacate the 2009 case, Scruggs could start a half-way house release program as he nears completion of a 2007 guilty plea.
“Of course, we’re disappointed,” said Scruggs’ attorney, Edward “Chip” Robertson Jr. of Jefferson City, Mo. “We’ll consider our options, including an appeal.”
In late 2007, Scruggs and three others pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey, who presided over a Katrina related legal fees lawsuit against Scruggs and associates over insurance settlements.
This latest decision relates to Scruggs’ 2009 guilty plea to seeking to improperly influence then-Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter of Hinds County, who presided over as asbestos-case legal fees lawsuit against Scruggs and others.
The DeLaughter sentence added seven years to be served at the same time as the five years Scruggs received in the Lackey case.
In his motion to vacate the DeLaughter conviction, Scruggs insists he pleaded guilty to a crime which doesn’t exist any more. He also says the allegedly improper influence was to let DeLaughter know Scruggs would suggest him for a federal judgeship, not bribe him.
DeLaughter also went to prison but he refused to plead guilty to bribery, only to mail fraud and lying to investigators about illegal conversations about the case. He’s completed his sentence.
Last March, Davidson presided over a hearing on Scruggs’ motion and in his 48-page decision Wednesday says Scruggs failed to prove that “no reasonable juror would have convicted him” of the crime for which he was charged.
“The court finds that in viewing the total record, the evidence overwhelmingly shows that (Scruggs) had specific intent to offer the lure of a federal judgeship” to DeLaughter for a favorable ruling in the case before him.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is the next stop for the case, if Scruggs decides to appeal.