By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Zach Scruggs has a chance to convince a federal judge that it should toss out his 2008 conviction.
Tuesday, Senior U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. set April 25 for a hearing to consider Scruggs’ motion to vacate his 14-month sentence associated with a judicial bribery scheme that shook Mississippi’s legal and political communities.
Scruggs’ motion, filed in August, says prosecutors pressured him into pleading guilty to not reporting that he knew about a crime being committed. That crime, he insists, was an illegal conversation between attorney Timothy Balducci of New Albany and Circuit Judge Henry Lackey.
Balducci sought to get Lackey to send a legal-fees lawsuit to arbitration over Hurricane Katrina insurance cases.
The government insists he knew the crime of bribery was being committed to deprive taxpayers of a state judge’s “honest services.”
Scruggs of Oxford also insists that if given the chance, he can prove he is innocent of that charge and an original indictment that brought down his famous litigator father, Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, Balducci and others in an attempted bribery conspiracy.
“Upon due consideration, the court is of the opinion that all issues involved in said motion should be heard,” Biggers wrote in his order for the hearing in Oxford.
Zach Scruggs has said that the government wrongly convinced the court that he knew about another scheme to illegally influence another legal-fees lawsuit against his father and legal associates.
And, he says, the fear of that wrongful testimony and a lengthy prison sentence pressured him into making a deal to plead guilty, instead of fighting the charges in court.
New statements cited in Scruggs’ motion say he knew nothing about that case.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.