By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Attorneys for former Oxford litigator Richard “Dickie” Scruggs say sufficient legal questions remain to warrant an appeal.
Late Thursday, they asked the U.S. District Court of Northern Mississippi to grant them approval to do so to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Earlier this week, Senior Judge Glen H. Davidson dismissed Scruggs’ motion to vacate his 2009 guilty plea and sentence for alleged misdeeds in a case surrounding then-Judge Bobby DeLaughter of Hinds County, who presided over a legal-fees lawsuit against Scruggs and others.
In his 48-page ruling, Davidson said Scruggs failed to prove that any one juror would decide that he was innocent of the charges.
The government insists that Scruggs dangled the possibility of a judicial appointment in front of DeLaughter.
Scruggs insists it was not a bribe, just “pure political speech,” like the endorsement of a candidate for political office.
Ticking off 13 specific areas, the motion predicts legal issues and prosecutorial theories will be of interest to the appeals court.
One issue, it says, is the court’s reliance on statements by former DeLaughter colleague Ed Peters when Scruggs’ attorneys were not allowed to question him.
The motion also was critical that the court stopped a subpoena of DeLaughter for Scruggs’ hearing and allowed the government to withhold immunity for him, allegedly to keep him from testifying.
Scruggs also asks the court to recommend the 5th Circuit expedite the appeal before his prison sentence ends so that the appeal’s “remedy does not become moot by the passage of time.”
Davidson’s approval is needed before any appeal can move up the appeals ladder.
Scruggs, 66, is serving a seven-year prison term for his DeLaughter conviction. The time was added onto his sentence for a 2007 guilty plea in the conspiracy to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey, who also presided over a legal-fees lawsuit against Scruggs and others.
His anticipated prison release is early 2015.