Monsanto rests case in fight with Scruggs

Agriculture giant Monsanto has rested its federal court case against Tupelo farm businessmen Mitchell and Eddie Scruggs.
The judge in the case, W. Allen Pepper Jr., also issued a gag order to prevent public comments from the parties and attorneys in the case.
The trial is being heard in Greenville’s U.S. District Court, where a jury last week heard testimony to support Monsanto’s 10-year-old lawsuit for millions in damages over the re-use of patented seeds. The trial, which began Aug. 30, is scheduled through the end of this week.
The defense begins its case today.
Pepper still has not ruled on the defense’s motion for a mistrial in the civil case, after repeated objections to Monsanto attorneys’ opening remarks insinuating that the Scruggses actions were criminal. The judge warned jurors to disregard the characterization.
Pepper’s gag order stemmed from complaints by Monsanto’s attorneys that defense attorney Jim Waide of Tupelo had spoken inappropriately with two newspaper reporters about the trial, and that he allowed Mitchell Scruggs to speak with the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville.
Monsanto insisted the reports jeopardized their right to a fair trial.
According to the trial transcript, Waide insisted he had done nothing wrong, especially because no gag order existed at that stage.
And he said, generally, much of the information contained in the published reports could have been obtained from the court’s document filing system or if a reporter had been in open court.

Patsy Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal