By Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal
OXFORD – Prosecutors say Zach Scruggs’ request to take sworn statements from 11 key judicial-bribery case witnesses is “reckless, speculative and legally ineffective.”
Their motion filed late Friday argues that the only people the court should subpoena for live testimony should be Scruggs’ four original co-defendants in the 2007 judicial bribery case that rocked Mississippi’s legal community.
Prosecutors ask Senior Judge Neal Biggers to order Sid Backstrom, Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, Steven Patterson and Timothy Balducci to appear for an April 25 hearing requested by Zach Scruggs to convince the court that his 2008 conviction and sentence should be thrown out.
Today’s motion responds to Scruggs’ recent request to question under oath nearly a dozen people, who were key players in a judicial bribery case against him.
His “actual, factual innocence will be the only issue before the court,” says the response written by Robert Norman, assistant U.S. attorney, and one of the people Scruggs asked to question.
Last fall, Scruggs of Oxford asked the U.S. District Court to throw out his conviction and sentence, saying new evidence and a new Supreme Court decision either proved he was innocent of the charges or that they did not apply anymore.
In November 2007, Scruggs, his famous attorney father Dickie Scruggs and the others were indicted on charges they schemed to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey to order arbitration in a legal-fees lawsuit against them.
By spring 2008, everybody had pleaded guilty to lesser charges, but those against Zach Scruggs were dismissed and changed to his knowledge that a colleague had an illegal conversation with Lackey about the case.
He was sentenced to 14 months in prison and lost his law license.
Biggers set the hearing for Scruggs’ motion, saying he would hear “all issues.”
Scruggs then asked to present new evidence but Biggers immediately said no, that the deadline for doing so closed when Scruggs pleaded guilty in March 2008.
But Scruggs insists that what he will present to the court wasn’t even known or hadn’t occurred in March 2008.
Today, the government said Scruggs doesn’t need to question others because he already has documents to answer the questions he poses to the court.
Norman also denies that other possible witnesses will say anything like what Scruggs claims they will.