Prosecutors to say bribe attempts not new

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD
Daily Journal

OXFORD – Federal prosecutors appear ready to say that Henry Lackey is not the first judge that famed Oxford attorney Richard Scruggs and others have tried to bribe.

Monday, they said in a motion that they intend to introduce “similar acts evidence” in their case against Scruggs, his son Zach and Oxford legal associate Sidney Backstorm, who are accused of trying to bribe Lackey, a circuit judge from Calhoun County.

U.S. Attorney Jim M. Greenlee's motion said evidence will consist of testimony and documentary evidence the government provided defense counsel in a Jan. 28 letter.

Scruggs is scheduled to stand trial March 31 in federal court in Oxford.

This motion could be related to the guilty plea agreement of former Booneville attorney Joey Langston. He admitted trying to bribe Hinds Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter with former state Auditor Steven Patterson, former New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci and former Hinds District Attorney Ed Peters, with help from Dickie Scruggs.

However, it also could be related to something else entirely but not known publicly.

DeLaughter, Scruggs and Peters have not been charged with anything in the case surrounding a legal fees lawsuit. Patterson and Balducci pleaded guilty in the Lackey case and are cooperating with the government.

Scruggs, Zach Scruggs and Backstrom have insisted upon their innocence in the Lackey case.

Monday's prosecution motion is based on Rule 404(b) Federal Rules of Evidence, which says character evidence is not admissible to prove conduct, but it can be admissible for other purposes, such as motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity or absence of mistake or accident – in the case of other crimes, wrongs or acts.

Contact Daily Journal news editor Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.