Scruggs counsel: Seal memo but we’ll ask unseals soon

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – To seal or unseal, those are the questions over legal documents in Richard “Dickie” Scruggs’ push to have a second judicial bribery conviction thrown out.

Thursday, attorneys for the former Oxford litigator asked Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson to seal a memorandum they’ve filed because it contains references to grand jury testimony and other sealed transcripts.

Earlier, the government won court seal on its own memorandum written in response to Scruggs’ initial petition.

In both matters, the attorneys told the court they have no objections to making “these matters” public, if the court decides to do so.

Also in Thursday’s motion to seal, Scruggs’ attorneys said they soon will file a motion to unseal their new motion, as well as the government’s response.

It’s not immediately clear what specific information these documents contain or what their public impact might be.

In late June, Scruggs asked the federal court to vacate his sentence in the so-called DeLaughter judicial bribery scandal.

His petition insists he was wrongly prosecuted in 2009 “for ethical infractions,” not crimes, when he hired former Hinds District Attorney Ed Peters to influence Peters’ friend, then-Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, presiding over a legal-fees lawsuit against Scruggs.

Despite his guilty plea, Scruggs says that his action was an “exercise of political influence,” which is constitutionally protected speech and not a crime.

Scruggs, 65, pleaded guilty twice about schemes to improperly influence judges presiding over lawsuits against him and associates.

The new motion to vacate deals only with the DeLaughter case, not the one directed at then-Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City.

Scruggs continues serving his sentences in a Montgomery, Ala., facility.

The DeLaughter conviction added another couple of years to the seven years he received for the Lackey case.

His projected release date, as it stands now, is Feb. 20, 2015.