OXFORD – Zach Scruggs’ former attorney Nathan Garrett on the stand.
(Readers, excuse me but I missed the first part of this for posting the earlier testimony to NEMS360.com)
ER – did you think you had a different resolution you thought?
NG – A lot of things happening at once. Believe we were passed deadline set by court for plea change. On Friday before we entered a plea, I had a discussion with Mr. Norman in Scruggs Law Firm wherein Norman and I talked specifically about Zach Scruggs case. My concern was that facts had been caught up in the environment in the larger case, and my goal from the beginning – was on seeking to get plea resolution with government – on that Friday, Norman and I talked about facts just germaine to Zach Scruggs.
My personal evaluation, that those facts were not sufficient to include Zach in this indictment. Talked to Norman specifically about governemtn’s responsibility – that you should ahve full confidence in merits of the case. I didn’t believe they rose to this level of indictment. At end of conversation, Norman said, if I have doubts I guess that’s the answer – seeing a pre-trial diversion for case.
If I have doubts I guess that’s teh answer – I expected pre-trial diversion. On Monday I was surprised tht gobernment had made an about face to that discussion, and that deal was not offered, but that discussion had made a complete about face. Govt. no longer willing to enter into a discussion about it. Ultimately, ended up with probation recommendation on misprision – frankly, a deal I was afraid of losing.
ER- did government reply to your motion? Remember what it said?
NG – gist, that nothing had changed sugject to court’s previous ruling on the issue.
LEERY – Feb. 21, 2008. was second day of two-day hearing involving Scruggs defendants.
NG – I don’t recall.
SL – Dick and Sid still involved, hadn’t pled. Patterson hadn’t pled yet. Dickie, Zach still out there. I want to refer back to Exhibit just placed into evidence, No. 53. You have copy up there. Turn to Page 8.
States – prejudicial impact of governemtn’s about-face is noteworthy becaise govt previously evaluated whether Zach was involved with scheme to corruptly influence Judge DeLaughter.
You were part of Zach’s defense team. Who else?
NG – Todd Graves, Mike Moore, Robertson present, maybe not counsel of record. Believe that’s all.
SL – You brought up candor to the court. Two-edged sword, government has a duty too.
What is government’s about-face?
NG – Well, I don’t remember exactly from when I wrote this – believe .. I had been led to believe was degree of involvement of Zach Scruggs. I talk about potential conflict with regard to Tony Farese. Trying to be fair in terms of what thought at time.
SL – What did you know on Feb. 21? You stated, you had tangible pieces of evidence that indicated what Joey Langston would testify about Zach Scruggs.
NG – I don’t know when I had that. Napkin e-mail was published in a newspaper previous to that. I’m not going to testify about when I read it for first time. Too difficult to do.
SL – You testified that you were shocked on Feb. 21, when Norman said Joey Langston would testify that Zach was “fully aware” of Langston case.
NG – I was surprised that Zach would know about illegal acts of DeLaughter matter.
SL- Why surprised you?
NG – All I can tetify to, that was not consistent with what my knowledge was at the time.
SL – Why is that inconsistent with what you knew? On Feb. 21? Surprised when Norman would say Zach was fully aware?
NG – What I recall, that he was aware Ed Peters had been hired in the case. But what was nefarious was about payments, the judgeship that was offered or recommendation – those total elements I was aware of. Zach’s knowledge was a small, sub-part of that. Goverment was enclosing Zach in the totality of that case.
SL – Did you know on Feb. 21 what Joey would testify to?
NG – I have a hard time with that question. As I sit here today, difficult for me to recollect.
SL – you said you were afraid Joey would lie. Means you knew the truth of it.
NG – I recall that the facts to be, related to Zach, was the e-mail and that Ed Peters had been hired. When I heard government ticked off various nefarious things associated with that, and that Zch ws fully aware, that was inconsistent with what I understood at the time.
SL – You said government’s about-face on Feb. 21 …. if you didn’t know …
NG – I hd been made aware of what I believed to be the facts known to Zach – different from fully aware. Assume that ws from discussions with goernment.
SL – who told you what Joey Langston would testify to?
NG – Don’t know.
SL – FBI reports of discussions with Joey Langston. Petitioner got this on May 10.
Five FBI reports, to be put into evidence, as next government exhibit.
First, these are proffer reports. Let’s go through them.
Five reports, whereby the FBI interviewed Joey Langston. First Jan. 7, 2008, next Jan. 16 – before Feb. 21 meeting. Next Feb. 25. Next March 5, 2008, Final Aug. 1, 2008. Two of them before Feb. 21 hearing. Three after Feb. 21 hearing.
Now, first two reports of Joey Langston – I represent, don’t mention Zach Scruggs. First time he is mentionedin FBI 302 is after Feb. 21 hearing. My question – how could you know what Joey would say about Zach before government even knew?
NG – I’m’ not testifying to what my recollection of Joey Langston’s tetimony would be. I’m testifying only about what I heard at that hearing was inconsistent to what I then believed.
SL – Your surprise came not from what Norman said about Joey about Zach, but your surprise that statements were different?
NG – I know Norman said Zach was fully aware and it was surprise to me.
SL – Can’t say Norman knew it was true?
NG – No, can’t. I don’t know what Mr. Norman was relying on to make that representation to the court.
SL – If Joey said Zach knew, and if Bob Norman did not know before that what Joey would testify to, it’s Norman’s statement to court that Zach was fully aware is a true statement/
NG – Not to me. I would want to know what that means, he knew what? I want to make sure my representations are accurate.
SL – You testified that you didn’t think that Joey would say Zach was fully aware, but had to take what goernment said was serious.
NG – I didn’t know what the facts were. But governemtn said he would say”x”, it’s something I’m concerned about.
SL – When were you told about Joey’s testimony? We don’t know.
We don’t know if government made an about-face at Feb. 21 hearing?
NG – that was my perception based on what I knew.
SL – if govt didn’t know what Joey would say before Feb. 21, it wasn’t an about-face.
NG – Purported testimony was what was related to me. It relates to the subsequent sentences which talk about govt. confronted with rather strange incestual relationship with lawyers evaluation Mr. Langston’s testimony.
SL – quick review of Wilson case? Bob Wilson, use to work with Scruggs. Had to sue them to get paid. Like Jones, who use to work with Scruggs. Jones had to sue to get paid.
NG – similar, in that respect.
SL – Dickie Scruggs has pleaded guilty to corrupt judges in both cases. DeLaughter had a life-long friend named Ed Peters. Peters was paid $1 million by Scruggs firm to corruptly influence DeLaugher?
NG – I don’t know.
SL – Peters was not attorney of record in DeLaughter case, like Balducci in Lackey case.
Zach indicted concerning conspiracy to influence Lackey. Wilson case also concerned a conspiracy, there was a 404B issued concerning the Wilson case – is evidence about Zach and Wilson case admissible in Lackey case? Issue was if Zach in Wilson was going to be admissible in the Jones case.
NG – correct
SL – you say you were … what did you underatnd Zach knew about Wilson case.
NG – that he knew Ed Peters had been hired and that there was a napkin e-mail that Zach was on.
SL – FBI report says Zach knew Ed Peters was not atty of record in case, hired in Wilson case.
MOORE – OBJECTION – YOU’RE TESTIFYING TO WHAT HE SAYS. IF YOU PUT IT UP THERE, WE CAN ALL SEE IT.
SL – (Puts Feb. 22, 2008 FBI report) Looks like govt interviews Langston day after hearing. That Zach knew Peters hired, Peters had close relationship with DeLaughter.
Zach also knew Peters was not to act as an attorney. Therefore ZS knew he wasn’t counsel of record.
Wasn’t only evidence govt had against ZS?
NG – you mean e-mail?
SL – (enter into record) email between Johnny Jones and Zach Scruggs.
Email is a string of e-mails. Point to a point of interest, I suspect may not agree what it means. I’ll just show it to you – Zach says has been removed from details of Wilson and Lucky (two similar legal-fees cases), but hope Jones hasn’t been working for free, no one would ask you to do tht. Next – Zach says he knows Steve has been working hard on Wilson case.
I take STeve to be Patterson, Joey is Langston and Tim is Balducci.
Zach says you could file briefs on a napkin right now and get it granted, given the judge’s view of the ase and Merkel/Vickie. That’s a provocative statement, isn’t it?
NG – What do you mean, provocative?
SL – Realize Langston pleaded in Wilson case?
NG – I do.
SL – not provocative?
NG – I can see you would assign a negative tone. But also, that judge has such a narrow view of it, they knew what he would decide.
SL – We know now, that DeLaughter was in fact being bribed. At that point, Scruggs law firm could get a brief signed on a napkin.
NG- But that isn’t necessarily what it means.
SL – Could just be bad timing?
Either Zach means it literally because we knew judge was being influenced, or that we have the right position in this case.
NG – that would be dependent on other facts.
SL – suffice to say, govt. had more evidence that what Joey was going to testify to.
Did you rely on Norman’s statement Feb. 21, 2008 that Joey would say Zach was fully aware? Did you rely on it?
NG – yes, in context of being concerned that he told court that’s what witness would say. I had my doubt based on facts known to me. But was concerned that Norman said that.
SL – My contention that you were not relying on Norman’s statement – that Langston would say Zach fully aware. This is why: On March 19, day Zach renewed his motion. So, right here, I’m going to start reading, renewed motion in limine – says despite offering a vague allegation that ZS was aware of what was going on in Wilson case. Now, you called the allegation vague, and say govt. to date has only indicated that ZS was hired in the case because of longstanding relationship with Judge DeLaughter.
How could you be relying on this? Important consequences come from this.
NG – I’m just trying to answer your questions. What has been made known to me is inconsistent with statement that Zach Scruggs was fully aware. As defense atty, it concerned me when govt. makes a statement as to what witness will testify to. I have to rely on that, have to put weight on what govt says its witness will say. Even when it was inconsistent with what I feel the facts to be.
SL – Say, that’s all government has indicated. If that’s what you knew, you weren’t relying on interpretation of what Norman said that was different – were you?
NG – Arguing what Norman said, in this, that what Norman said was not accurate.
SL – Did you ahve good communication with legal team defending Zach Scruggs?
NG – I believe we did.
SL – If Tony Farese testified that he told Mike Moore the only thing … MOORE OBJECTS – LET’S PUT FARESE ON – OBJECT, HE’S READING FROM DOCUMENT ABOUT WHA FARESE SAID 2 WEEKS AGO. IF HE WANTS TO ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT FARESE, WE CAN LOOK AT HIS RECENT TESTIMONY.
SL – If Farese said he informed defense team that all Joey would say is that ZS knew Peters was retained because of relationship with DeLaughter. Would you object to that statement?
NG – I don’t have personal recollection of his saying that, that that happened.
SL – If, when Zach pled guilty, David Sanders was handling that case.
NG – I dealt with Bob, Tom, Dave a lot – but I think had a lot of interaction with Sanders.
SL – About Farese… if he says he informed them after feb. 21, you’re not aware of that?
NG – I’m not
SL – If Sanders testified that he notified defense team after Feb. 21 about Langston would say, would you object to that?
NG – I don’t hae personal reference.
SL – David would say I told defense team that Joey would say retained because of personal relationship with DeLaughter. Exact same thing shows up in your motion to the court. Why?
NG – I don’t know, I don’t recall having that conversation. I agree that this is the information known to me at the time I filed this motion, that ws contrary to what Norman said at the previous hearing. It was a concern, even though it was inconsistent as facts known to me.
SL – not saying Sanders informed you?
NG – I’m saying I don’t know.
SL – Possible, your statement is because of what Sanders said?
NG – possible, I have no personal recollection. (3:14 p.m.)
LEERY – GOVT. RESTS (Tenders witness, lawyer chuckles)
EDWARD ROBERTSON – REDIRECT
ER – When you read a document, sometimes you see new things. Says nothing in email suggests Zach knew about the offer of a judgeship as crux of government’s offering about allegation?
NG – I believe I meant, that in trying to defeat the notion of admissibility, that the meat of the matter was the quid pro quo, which constituted the illegality of the act. That the email did not suggest Zach knew about the illegality. Govt. never told me he knew about that.
ER – Taht’s what you felt “fully aware” meant?
NG – Government had ticked off unlawfulness and similar bd conduct, which included judgeship. No evidence that Zach knew about judgeship offer.
SL – what you thought Norman said?
NG – darn sure concerned he meant that.
SL – Was e-mail in proffer that day?
NG – I don’t remember them bringing it up then.
SL – firs time brought up in this proceeding?
NG – don’t know.
SL – know who Steve is?
NG – I don’t know.
ER – know Jones’ partner is STeve Funderburg? Patterson isn’t a lawyer and hasn’t written any briefs.
ER – ever known Farese to be a government agent? That he was fired because he represented Joey Langston and was believed in conflict when represented Zach?
Did you talk to government lawyers about what Joey would testify to, or with Farese about what he would testify to prior to Feb. 21?
NG – Don’t ever recall having conversation with Anthony Farese.
ER – Jan. letter he wrote? On March 21, when govt said to you in writing that nothing had changed in regard to 404B, would it be inconsistent to statements to court about Joey Langston testimony?
NG – I believe it would be.
ER – What court was told, what we were told on March 21.
(That’s all – 3:21 p.m.)
BIGGERS – LET’S TAKE A 10-MINUTE RECESS
* * *
3:42 P.M. – STEVE PATTERSON
MIKE MOORE – Stipulation about Dick Scruggs’ testimony, would it be OK if I introduce it and read it – it’s just two paragraphis.
LEERY – Stipulated that this is what Dickie Scruggs would testify to, not agreeing with it but to what it is.
MM – To testify – that he never discussed with Zach or was he ever aware that Zach had any knowledge of any agreement or about any money to Lackey. That March 2007 at law firm meeting – at some point, Jones lawsuit discussed and Patterson said Balducci had close relationship with Judge Lackey.
MIKE RADER – former state auditor?
SP – from 1992 to 1998.
CR – at some point had office with Langston.
SP – maintained an office. Where first met Tim Balducci. Eventually decided to open own firm. in 2006, in New Albany – organized it in D.C. as Patterson -Balducci, but operating in Mississippi at Balducci Law Firm.
MR – In March 2007, member of Patterson Balducci Group?
SP – I was.
MR – meeting at Scruggs Law Firm. Remember going to office for meeting?
SP – I do
MR – who went with you?
SP – Tim Balducci. We had a number of ongoing projects and joint venture with Scruggs Firm at that time. To discuss those issues.
MR – Didn’t just show up.
SP – I set up appointment myself.
MR – Once got there, met with?
SP= Dickie, Sid, Zach. Purpose – talked about all that.
MR – At some point, did Jones lawsuit come up?
SP – I did. Don’t know who brought it up.
MR – Did someone mention Tim’s close relationship with Lackey?
SP – I did, not Zach.
MR – Was it Zach’s idea to involve Tim?
SP – no, I think Zach also brought up he knew about Tim’s relationship with Lackey.
MR – Zach just confirmed that?
SP – to my knowledge.
Prior to meeting, you and Tim knew about Jones case. I think Tim ahd been speaking with Sid about it for some time.
MR – Prior, did you decide you’d like to be involved in Jones case?
SP – In addition to long history with Dickie and with Lackey, it was a nice fit. They had voiced in that meeting some concerns about other relationships with others who had an ability to talk to judge Lackey.
MR – Once door was opened withJones, were you trying to get Tim hired?
SP – absolutely. Not needed to “sell” Tim but certainly trying to get us in the game.
MR – Did anybody ever tell you you’d get into Katrina group?
SP – no, not to my knowledge was Tim told that. Not pressured to get into Jones case.
MR – Tim said he was “approached” about getting involved in Jones case.
SP – I left the room soon after the meeting started. But there when Jones case was brought up. Wasn’t resolved while I was in the room. Balducci wasn’t approached about it. It came up as kind of mutual.
MR – was there anybody illegal intended about Tim approaching to Lackey?
SP – absolutely not. NO mention of money. No hint of bribe. While I was in room (all Zach said was to confirm Tim’s relationship with Lackey.)
MR – Did Tim go see Lackey?
SP – Yes. My understanding is that he called tht very day, set up an appointment, visited with Lackey, mentioned the Jones case, talked to him about it.
LEERY OBJECT – NO FOUNDATION ABOUT HOW PATTERSON KNOWS.
MR – Did he tell you?
SP – Yes. Lackey agreed it looked like arbitration was called for. Pretty much it – Tim made a terrible error at that point about Lackey becoming “of counsel” with firm after he retired. Apparently it concerned Lackey at that point.
MR – Tim told you about meeting. Did you assume Lackey would send it to arbitration?
SP – absolutely. Firm was struggling, had some long-term real opportunities.
MR – Firm cash strapped?
SP – absolutely.
MR – Sept. 2007, call to Tim from Lackey?
SP – yes. Confusing call, one that we both were concerned about. Stressed about. Lackey made referene to “would htey help me get oer a hump” We weren’t sure exactly what that meant but we had out fears.
MR – Advised him?
SP – yes. Told him to go see him to find out what he meant. Our fear is that it was money. WE didn’t know.
MR – Tim went to see Lackey Sept. 21. After, did you learn that Lackey asked for $40K?
SP – I did. Same day or soon thereafter. Tim told that.
MR – Despite fact that Jones case was in front of Lackey, say that wasn’t the situation, would you have loaned the money to Judge Lackey.
SP – Felt I was being extorted. He had put a good sales pitch, feinged financial distress, talked about his health, having to see timber, gotten himself involved with people he shouldn’t have. Yes, I think I would have tried to help him.
MR – Knew about trial on coast?
SP – Yes
MR – Did you know Tim got material about trial? Was he going to do the work?
SP _ Yes, I think he was. Had several inquiries, I think Zach called about it.
MR – Did someone at SCruggs call about status of voir dire? How many?
SP – Contacted me looking for Tim to discuss it.
MR – You would take the call?
SP – Yes. Call got passed up to me – status of voir dire, that’s correct.
MR – Two other occasions looking for the same thing.
SP – Yes, even bump into them in Oxford and ask about the same thing. Think I probably did (tell Tim they called).
MR – did he say wasn’t going to do it?
SP – no. I believe that it was legitimate that they expected him to do the work. Also thought it was the method by which we were getting the $40K back.
MR – phone conversations with Tim. Hear them?
SP – Heard them many times.
MR – Tim drops off order with Zach?
SP – nothing significant except Zach was the only one there?
No (didn’t think Zach was involved or tangled up in this mess)
MR – Think it was better dropped off with Zach instead of Dick’s desk?
SP – no, I didn’t place any significance on it.
MR – known Zach since was in college…. when Zach’s in a room, describe him. Is he ever quiet?
SP – always calle dhim a cheerleader. To the point of being annoying sometimes. He’s always talking. Absolutely.
MR – You and Zach known each other since Zach in college. Around this time frame did you and Zach talk more than ever in past?
SP – yes, lot of political things going on, projects together.
MR – Lackey came up?
S P – not one time
MR – where money was brought up, order?
SP – not one time
MR – ever hear Zach knew about bribe?
SP – no
MR – did tim ever say antying about Zach and money to Lackey?
SP – only about time when he left order with Zach.
MR – ever hear Zach’s name mentioned with $40K to Lckey?
SP – absolutely not
MR – did Zach have any involvement in this scheme to bribe Lackey?
SP – no
MR – was Zach in any way involved with plan or payment?
SP – never was a plan. We were asked for the money. We were extorted from the money. I take strong issue with that. Not to my knowledge (did Zach have any involvement).
MR – did you tell US Atty’s Office?
SP – yes I did. When I negotiated about my plea, they said I was to be the least involved defendant. I told them I didn’t know why Zach was named, that he wasn’t involved.
4:08 – LEERY – (banter with Patterson – maybe I can instruct you some.)
SL – Here to tell the truth, right?
SP – yes.
SL – stte auditor, had to resign because of ethics?
SP – I chose to resign under pressure over a car tag.
SL – Not a lawyer. You are in a firm with Balducci, established in Washington, D.C. where allow non-lawyer partners.
SP – that’s right.
SL – Mississippi doesn’t allow?
SP – that’s right. In MS Balducci Law Group.
SL – As a nonlawyer, you could not file pleadings in caes, correct?
SP – of course not.
SL – couldn’t enter appearances in court.
SP – of course not.
SL – what did you do?
SP – I know a lot of people. Did a lot of lobbying. Had a consulting firm. Been involved in politics and government. Was an investment banker. Did a lot of things.
SL – Recording between Tim and Lackey, Sept. 11. Balducci talks about Patterson contacts.
Is that a fair representation of what you do?
SP – yes, I helped make a pretty damn good storm here, didn’t I? A hurricane.
SL – You were not only involved in Jones case … but also in Wilson case, which was by Bob Wilson v. SCruggs firm?
SP – involved that I know about it. I wouldn’t chracterize it as something sinister.
SL – what know about Wilson case?
SP – everything.
SL – convictions for corrupting a judge?
SP – yes. Here’s what I did, I introduced Joey Lagnston to Ed Peters. I was involved in a few meetings and that was pretty much my involvement. Not much else. They didn’t know each other, I introduced them. From time to time, Peters would look for Langston and he’d call me. Wasn’t knvolved in any legal maneuvering between those two.
SL – met with FBI, remember Aug. 5, 2008?
SP – Aug. 5, 2008? (FBI proffer by Patterson offered as evidence)
SL – Tell me if you agree or disagree with FBI report: Compare what you told FBI to what you said in this courtroom.
SP – OK
SL – Patterson met with Peters at Shoney’s on High Street in Jackson, Asked Peters to associte with Langston. Probably get a good fee. Thought it was for honest legal work.
SP – I do.
SL – Patterson flew to Jackson with Langston, met with Peters, Langston paid Peters $50K. Patterson thought money was for Peters to earwig DeLaughter.
SP – Gave you broad picture of what had happened. I didn’t give you details of fee being paid.
SL – now, we’re talking about federal judgeships.
SP yes, I get asked about that a lot.
SL – Passed info along to Langston, Suspects he passed it along to Scruggs, known as go-to guy for federal judges.
SP – probably said he was one of the go-to guys.
SL – Langston called Ptterson said Lott had made a call to DeLaughter. Paterson thought this was too far and too obvious. Patterson now knew corrupt influence had occurred. Say that?
SP – I probably did.
SL – Know more thansaid to this court?
SP – No, I told you I knew everything.
SL – Patterson believed Scruggs would continue to help DeLaughter.
SP – I did. Doesn’t say, DeLaughter was very respected, a terrific record in Hinds County. Not a pristine world we live in.
SL – people went to jail for corruptly influencing Judge DeLaughter? These things happen every day, you day?
SP – no, I meant politics go on every day. To try to get yourself appointed a judgeship without politicla help isn’t possible.
SL- was Scrugg firm corrupt?
SP – no, it was a political firm.
SL – FBI report, Patterson on Jan. 22, 2008 – you say Scruggs law firm wasn’t corrupt.
SP – not in my judgment.
SL – however members pled guilty to two corrupt acts involving judges?
SP – that’s correct
SL – Patterson said: Dickie method of operation is to get others to do his dirty work for him. What did you mean by that?
SP – political work, connotation that you and others put on it as dirty. Must not stain our pristine hands with.
SL – not talking illegal, unethical work?
SP – no
SL – Now, if you were aware in both Wilson and Jones cases, attorneys retained not of record on those cases? Aware?
SL – Peters because of relationship with DeLaughter. Langston with Lackey?
SP – no, not Langston – it was Balducci. I don’t think Tim was ever retained, unfortunately.
SL – use Balducci to speak to Lackey?
SP – apparently he did.
SL – March 27-28 meeting, 2007. It’s the March meeting., You said you were there. Balducci, Dickie, Sid, Zach.
SP – that’s correct
SL – at this meeting, numerous things discussed. Various lawsuits. Also, was Jones lawsuit. With reference to Balducci’s close relationship with Lackey?
SP – that’s correct
SL – discussed that Tim would make contact with Lackey?
SP – yes, that happened after I left the room. I didn’t hear it. I have no basis to dispute it, but I know he went.
SL – Know that after March meeting, Balducci began to meet with Judge Lackey. Everybody at that meeting has pled guilty to a felony related to the corrupt influence of Judge Lackey?
SP – that’s true.
SL – (next, Nov. 28, 2007 FBI report) Also referring to FBI report, says Patterson said he alwasy considered transaction with Lackey-Balducci a quid pro quo. Agree?
SP – Of course, Judge Lackey set it up as one. That was part of the extortion.
SL – that Lackey extorted from Balducci?
SP – that how I felt about it. I think Judge Lackey is an honorable man, just operating at the instructions of the government.
SL – Do you think a gentleman on bench for a long time is capable of being cocercedby government?
SP – Can speculated, but can tell you but factually he had a quid pro quo when he asked for the money.
SL – From FBI report, Says Balducci asked for money to help him with a problem. Decision was made to pay him so decisions would go their way. What things are we talking about?
SP – That’s the way it was set up. We were given a terrible dilemma. Ours was that we could be a victim of this extortion and pay money, we felt sympathy for judge. He did a great job of feigning his personal financial distress, about his health, he’d weighed heavy on thesympathies of Tim. Do we go through with it, do we ignore it or do we go through with it? Unfortunately, we made the wrong decision. We should have reported it.
BIGGERS – I have been listening to this, this line of questioning is far removed from the focus of this hearing. Move on.
Patterson – thank you, judge.
SL – You talked about the voir dire assigned to Balducci by Scruggs law firm. State that it was legitimate.
SP – yes
SL – Previously, Backstrom thought it was wasteful and extravagant. Differ?
SP – No, I felt like that was the way we were being repaid. But they expected him to do the work.
SL – You said felt like law firm was repaying you for $40K to Lackey through his voir dire assignment.
SP – absolutely
SL – We listened to phone call Nov. 18, 2007, Patterson and Balducci. Tim says he left the order with Zach. You said very good. Noteworthy that you didn’t say why did you leave it with Zach, he doesn’t know what’s going on?
SP – I thought it was very insignificant.
CR – Any FBI reports mention Zach Scruggs:
SP – I don’t know. I can’t imagine why they would. Only thing I told govt was I didn’t know why he was in it in the beginning.
CR – said you knew everything about Wilson case. Zach did anything?
SP – not that I know about. 4:38 p.m.
BIGGERS – BACK AT 9 A.M. WEDNESDAY
• • •
OXFORD – (1:04 P.M.) Former Scruggs Law Firm partner Sid Backstrom continues with testimony, under questioning by AUSA Charlie Spiller, immediately after lunch.
Former Balducci partner Steve Patterson is expected after Backstrom.
(Please forgive the typos and other glitches likely as I write this as fast as I can, as it happens in U.S. District Court. Spellcheck isn’t an option. Players are identified by their initials after first reference, if possible)
• • •
CHARLIE SPILLERS, ASST. US ATTORNEY – Earlier you were asked about arbitration. You said confident the Jones lawsuit would go to arbitration. Remember?
Sid Backstrom – I did.
CS – That’s court’s call, isn’t it?
SB – yes
CS – (Jones response opposing arbitration – to show to SB) – Think it’s self-explanatory. (Hands it to SB) That’s a certified copy of filing?
SB – yes sir.
CS – Let’s return to Nov. 1, we talked about recording in the office. Secretary came in while three of you discussing the lawsuit, and just as a reminder, (posts transcript), Nov. 1 when Scruggs came to office, and Tim said Zach let me bring you up to speed on Lackey order.
The three of you in small office, when interruption by secretary. Think we were going to play it but mistakenly sent them to wrong part of clip.
(PLAY TAPE SEGMENT – Zach’s talking about arbitration, looking at order. Secretary comes in. Call from Tracy Lott. Zach asks, Trisha Lott? Sec says could be, want to take a message. Tim says, God only knows. Pause. Tim says get this how you want it because I’ve got to go back for another delivery of another bushel of sweet potatoes because of all this that has come up. Get it right, we’re paying for it to get it right. Backstrom in background reading order language.)
CS – We heard the door shut?
SB – I don’t know.
CS – Can interpret that for ourselves. Sec came in and interrupted, all of you stopped discussing lawsuit and judge Lackey. Zach says to take a message, find out who it was. Sec leaves?
SB – I don’t have a specific recollection, seems that way from tape.
CS – any reason for her to remain in the room?
SB – no
CS – don’t want to resume talking in front of her? Zach continues to talk about the call. He’s still in room?
SB – appears so.
CS – Then, there’s God only knows, and a pause. Mr. Backstrom, you were asked if Zach was in the room when Tim said another delivery of sweet potatoes and paying for it. Your testimony, is this correct? Struck me – you said, based on the tape I feel like Zach wasn’t in the room then because Zach didn’t say anything.
SB – I think that’s about right.
CS – Know why that’s striking? You’re a lawyer, you know. You didn’t say Zach wasn’t in the room. You didn’t say I don’t recall he was in the room. You said, basedon the tape, I feel like he wasn’t in the room. You’re under sworn testimony. Right now, is there going to be a direct conflict about whether Zach was in the room about sweet potatoes? Was he?
I’m not trying to trap you. If you don’t recall, tell us.
SB – Based on my recollection of that alone, I don’t know. Having listened to the tape and hear the God only knows statement, I believe Tim was saying that in response to Zach walking out. Not 100 percent certain on that.
CS – Thought you said, basically, I don’t recall for certain if Zach was in the room. Is that fair?
SB – Yes
CS – I appreciate your coming here today and stress you’re under and trying to do the right thing. I appreciate you.
Statement about sweet potatoes, another delivery, get it right. Where Tim says I’ve got to go back for another delivery for another bushel of sweet potatoes down there… get it right, how you want it because we’re paying for it to get it done right.
Of course, you knw he wasn’t talking about sweet potatoes?
SB – at that moment (I know now)
MOORE – OBJECT, WANT WITNESS TO FINISH TESTIMONY
SB – I tried to put myself back in that situation that day, I know I was reviewing the order at that time, based on my later comments. I don’t know how much of that hit home with me or not. I do know what he’s talking about now.
CS – At time, he said we’re paying for it?
SB – think I ws reviewing the order and I don’t know how much of that was hitting home for me at that moment. I know what it means now. I’ve tried to put myself back in that situation to understand what I understood then. I just don’t know how much of that was actually as clear to be then as it is now.
CS – In reason Zach left the room, because tim was talking too open about everything? Correct?
SB – You’d have to ask Zach and assume he heard some of that, which I don’t know.
CS – And if Zach was in room, as tape shows, Zach never asked what are sweet potatoes, if he was in the room. Correct?
SB – If he was in the room.
CS – If Zach was in the room, when those statements were made, that order was being paid for … OBJECT MOORE (SUSTAINED)
CS – Let’s go to another conversation between you and Tim on Nov. 13, 2007 – when Tim brought up dealing with Zach and the money. Recall that?
SB – not specifically, need to look at transcript.
CS – When you told Tim, I didn’t hear the last 3 minutes. Remember?
SB – Yes
CS – (asks to play audio recording of conversation, with transcript)
(TAPE – Two weeks after Tim and Sid talk about order. Balducci wired to see Sid, Says if he’s not there, he’ll call him on cell phone. Makes call, Sid answers, Sid says he’s just trying to keep it on the road, you know what I mean? Tim says can see Zach or Dick, has the order Lackey’s signed. It’s the one I showed you the other day. Tim says it’s read to be filed. Says is this really what you want – to arbitration or him to keep it and kind of fix it? Jude is read to play ball and we’ve got an opportunity to kill this thing now, whatever we wanna do. It’ll take some more, we’ve given him 50 but for a little more he’s willing to play ball, maybe you should talk to Dick and Zach about what they want. Sid says you just cut out for about 3 minutes. Sid says we shouldn’t overreach, and get outselves in trouble. Feeling quick-kill is available, but may not be good for out situation. Think we should just stay the course. Concern now with waffling. Tim, it has not been without adventure. He’s waffled some, I’ve had to walk him through it. Just wanted to give you a sense of the opportunity – he will do whatever we want. He’s not going to do it for free but he’ll do what we want. BAckstrom says if judge feels OK, he’s happy with that.)
CS – About conversation, when Tim said he was going to come see you but he could see Zach or Dick, he was talking about that order – and opportunity that judge said he would kill it, if that’s what wanted. Correct?
SB – correct
CS – Tim said it would take a little more money. Correct?
SB – He did say that.
CS – He says, I can see Zach or Dick – three times – you never said, don’t talk to Zach about this, did you?
SB – I never did.
CS – Tim says we’ve give him Fifty to get where we are now. You understand he meant 50 thousand?
SB – was my understanding
CS – On Nov. 1, same day at law office, after he saw you and Zach, Tim saw Dick and talked about another 10,000 for the judge? Aware of that?
SB – I think I’m aware of that from tape.
CS – Still friends with Zach?
SB – don’t talk to him much but consider him a friend.
CS – When you entered your plea, even then, you said you didn’t want the factual basis without Zach. You were trying to protect him, even then?
SB – I don’t know, without reading the factual basis.
CS – On Nov. 13 – you had three opportunities to say, don’t mention this to Zach?
SB – I don’t see that as three opportunities. I never said Zach did not know about this, I never said those words.
CS – Tender witness.
MIKE MOORE – Just a few things your honor.
MM – Nov. 13 transcript? (gets copy) Just asked you about a new tape that we didn’t discuss in direct examination. Was Zach involved in this conversation? Correct?
SB – that’s correct
MM – Now we’re at Nov. 13, two weeks later. During week of Nov. 1 to 13, government had days to listen, see who else ws involved and shore up their case. What we’re doing now, is it fair to say we’re reaching for more?
SB – yes
MM – Page 12 on exhibit, Tim is wired up and says, he could see you but could go see Zach or Dick?
SB – that’s right
MM – Spillers says you should have said No, don’t see Zach?
SB – seems that way
MM – Couldn’t Tim have called Zach at any time to talk about this? March through October. Have you listened to all the tapes?
SB – Probably have.
MM – did govt ever attempt to get a call to Zach Scruggs?
SB – not that I found.
MM – Spillers asked you about this one moment. Truth is, this is their moment to try to show Zach was involved or not. Is he in the room or not? Did he hear it or did he not? Your testimony is I don’t believe, I don’t think so. Correct?
SB – I think that’s what I said.
MM – When Spillers asked, Sid said wasn’t clear to you about this money about sweet potatoes, get it like we want it. Was it clear to you that judge had been bribed?
SB – Sitting here today and knowing what I know, it’s hard to know what I knew then. It didn’t …coming out of that conversation don’t remember being struck by fact that jduge had been bribed. Hearing tape, seeing my responses, appears I wasn’t paying any attention. A long time ago, tried to put it behind me. I don’t know.
MM – Nov. 13, hear about money being paid? Pretty clear that somethin bad had happened?
SB – Seems like it.
MM – you pleaded guilty to it?
SB – I did
MM – if you weren’t clear on Nov. 13, and no evidence anywhere that Zach Scruggs knw anything ……..SPILLERS OBJECT – BIGGERS IT’S HYPOTHETICAL,
MM – If you weren’t clear at this point, how could Zach Scruggs possibly be clear? SPILLERS OBJECT / Moore – My point has been made.
1:42 P.M. – STEPS DOWN
EDWARD ROBERTSON – CALLS ASHLEY YOUNG
AY – Live in Birmingham. In ’07, a runner at Scruggs Law Firm from May ’07 to May ’08. Working there in November 2007.
ER – Remember what happened Nov. 1, 2007?
AY – Not specifically. As a runner do errands, assist office manage with calls.
ER – Answer phone or assisting?
AY – Doing both. When mgr there, I would get the attorneys about calls, I would be the person to say, got a call, do you want it?
ER – Recall call from Tracy Lott or Lock?
AY – yes, I was runner. I would ahve sought out Zach about a call if not at his desk.
ER – Map of Scruggs office. Looks like wht you remember?
AY – yes, that looks right.
ER – Where was Vickie’s station? Here?
AY – Yes
ER – Is this Sid’s office?
AY – yes – when call came, Vickie answered the phone. Felt she heard Lott or Lock, might be a relative. She alled with no answer, I went to look for Zach. In Sid Backstrom’s office. I knocked and opened the door. Stood on the outskirts of the office.
Sid was sitting in general area of his desk. Balducci was standing back in that area behind the desk next to Backstrom. Zach was standing near the door, near those chairs.
ER – Did you do anything?
AY – Signaled Zach that I needed to speak to me. He ame over close to me, probably in that doorway. We went back and forth about the call. I said, do you want the call. Back and forth. I don’t remember if he asked me to take a message. Ultimately, I walked out of office and Zach said he’d take the call. Zach came out of the office. He said to tell Vickie to send the call back. He walked into his office. Saw him go into his office.
SCOTT LEERY – Lived in B’ham?
AY – about 2 years. Graduated May 2009. Entered Ole Miss in about 2005. BA n Journalism. Working for Scruggs Law Firm, May 2007 to May of 2008.
SL – At Ole Miss for about another year?
AY – yes. Worked at law firm, usually about 5 days a week, Times varied, depended on class schedules.
SL – remember what classes taking November 2007?
AY – I don’t
SL – Any idea what they were talking about on Nov. 1?
AY – No, I don’t. Typically, just did our job.
SL – After May 2008, have you kept up with Scruggs Law Firm?
AY – Yes, and others were in touch vaguely. I was still in Oxford. After left and went to Birmingham, didn’t keep in touch with Scruggs legal team. First job as receptionist. Now, a client support specialist.
2009 – Industrial Chemical. 2010 – at ITT Technical Institute. Briefly worked for another company. Now work for a software company.
SL- In 2009, did you talk to Scruggs Law Firm?
AY – No
SL – In 2010, did they?
AY – no
SL – at other jobs, did Scruggs call to talk about case?
AY – No, in May I was informed that I may be called to testify as witness. Later, they called to say we definitely need you to testify.
SL – When did they interview you about testimony?
AY – That was early May 2011, only time I had any contact with them.
SL – Have you been talking to anybody about this conversation before May 2011?
AY – What are you talking about?
SL – Did you talk to anybody about that conversation before 2011?
AY- I’m sure I talked to somebody about it. I had no need to. In Birmingham, nobody knows who the SCruggses are. Never went into detail with anybody about it.
SL – Curious, in 2007 you worked at Scruggs Law Firm. You were able to testify specifically about what happened on Nov. 1, 2007, could specifically reference that day. Stil couldn’t remember what classes you were taking. Remember Nov. 1, 2007. Remember phone call to Zach, couldn’t decipher the message, then remembered 4 years ago that Vickie paged Zach in his office and he wasn’t there. From 4 years ago, remembered you found him in Sid’s office. Man, that’s a lot to remember with a high degree of specificity, isn’t it?
AY – I don’t think it was.
SL- You also remember where everybody was standing.
AY – yes
SL – I’m going to play the tape, small section, when you walk into the room. Raise your hand when you hear the door open and door close. (TAPE RUNS – ) That’s you coming in. Back it up. (hear talk on Tape, asking about Tracy Lott, take message)
Did you just hear the door close?
AY – I heard a noise.
SL – Was it door close?
AY – I don’t know.
SL – Hear the door open?
AY – I heard a knock. (Tape plays again)
Heard 2 noises.
SL – Are you going to tell me you don’t know it wsn’t the door?
AY – I don’t know. if that ws the door closing or not.
SL – if that ws the door closing, tell me who speaks next after that sound.
Was that Zach Scruggs talking after that noise?
AY – yes
SL – is it possible after door closed noise, that Zach stayed in the office and made that statement?
AY – Disagree, that’s not what I remember.
SL – heard Zach after door closed. You said it was possible.
If it’s possible tht you left and closed the door, and Zach spoke after you left, is it possible he didn’t follow you out the door? (LEERY IS GETTING PRETTY LOUD WITH HIS QUESTIONS AT YOUNG)
AY – No, I’m not comfortable saying that. That’s not what I remember.
EROBERTSON – Remember asking you to tell the truth?
AY – Yes
ER – have you told the truth?
AY – yes
ER – Still believe your best recollections about where people we standing, etc.?
AY – That’s what I remember. (2:06 p.m.)
ER – CALL NATHAN GARRETT
RECESS 10 MINUTES WHILE TRY TO GET GARRETT TO COURTROOM.
* * *
OXFORD – (10:36 A.M.) Former Scruggs Law partner Sid Backstrom continues testimony from question by Scruggs attorney Michael Moore.
Expect Steve Patterson to be next. Ran into his lawyer, Hiram Eastland, out in the corridor. Says former prosecutors Tom Dawson and David Sanders also are waiting their turn.
* * *
(The following is a running report as witnesses testify. Please excuse the typos and other glitches likely to occur as I type as fast as I can. Spellcheck isn’t a luxury for the time-pressed.)
MM – (With schematic of Scruggs Law Firm office suite, The Square in Oxford) If I point to something, can you tell me what it is?
SB – I’ll give it a shot.
MM – When Tim said he’s going to make a recording with Sid Backstrom and possibly Dick Scruggs, remember that tape?
SB – yes sir.
MM – Goes up stairs? Top of stairs, receptionists? Who were they then?
SB – Vickie Evans, receptionist. A couple of college girls who would have filled in part-time, Ashley and Erica. Don’t remember last names.
MM – Large conference room, small conference room. Dick Scruggs office in front? To get to your office, must walk down hallway?
SB – right.
MM – Zach’s office?
(Sid and Zach offices were across the hall from each other at end of hallway. David Shelton’s in proximity in back corner of office.)
MM – on Nov. 1, when you saw Tim, where did you see him?
SB – Don’t remember, could have been hall or in my office.
MM – a lot of talk about Halloween candy. Nov. 1, is Tim in your office?
SB – at some point, we end up on my office.
MM – From my memory, he’s talking to Zach for a while. Then, you walk into the room, say hello, then where go?
SB – Normally sat behind my desk. (notes on schematic, chairs in front of desk)
MM – very far from chairs to doorway?
SB – No, not very far.
MM – On Nov. 1, you’ve listened to the tape more than one time?
SB – yet
MM – Remember discussions about what order says, Tim brought it in. Were you surprised he showed up with an order?
SB – not particularly, we’d had order before (Oct. 18 Tim showed up with order, picked up one on Sept. 27)
MM – this order pretty much like one Daniel Coker prepared?
SB – I’d have to look but compels arbitration.
MM – So, when he had order. Think he had just one copy. Did you read it?
SB – yeh.
MM – what doing on tape as hear uh-huh?
SB – reading order. (Zach? read order?) Think he did. Don’t recall him doing that (looking over shoulder behind desk).
MM – characteristic of Zach that are plain annoying?
SB – Would say annoying since he’s in the room? He’s a real OCD, as they say. Means he’s obsessive compulsive disorder. Talks a lot, rambles.
MM – If Zach’s in room, is he talking all time?
SB – pretty much. When he’s sleeping, he’s not talking.
MM – Reading the order with Balducci. Get to moment we’re here for – interruption, wasn’t there?
SB – One of girls in office and said phone call for Zach. Some misunderstanding about who it might have been.
MM – Remember name Casey Lott or Lock? Person opened door?
SB – Think so. Heard say he’s got amessage.
MM – asks if it’s Tricia Lott?
SB – remember.
MM – pause on tape. Tim says God only knows. 8 second pause. Tim yesterday said during pause … (SPILLERS OBJECTS – ASK WITNESS)
Do you remember where Zach was when Tim said God only knows?
SB – Myu best recollection – that Tims aid that as Zach was leavingroom, kind of rolled his eyes. As to who it was or why Zach was leaving the room.
MM – So, did Zach Scruggs at that point, walk around desk and read the order wiht you?
SB – I don’t recall that happening.
MM – When Tim said the words, about getting another bushel of sweet potatoes. He says you need to get ti right like you want it, we’re paying for it. Was Zach in the room?
SB – I feel likehe wans’t because he never said anything, made any response to that.
MM – Did Zach say anything or do anything after Tim said God only knows
SB – Don;t remember his being in room after that.
MM – was he in your office again? Did he ever come back?
SB – While Tim was there, no I don’t think he did.
MM – Did you ever tell Zach about any conversation with Tim from that point forward?
SB – I don’t recall ever having a conversation.
MM- Did you ever through this have conversation and tell Zach that money had been paid to Lackey for an order?
SB – no sir.
MM – one last question – you were subpoenaed to come here today.
SB – yes sir. Didn’t volunteer to come here today.
10:52 A.M. – Moore tenders the witness to government
CHARLIE SPILLERS TO QUESTION BACKSTROM.
CS – Have a few questions for you. Set me straight if I have something wrong. One fact, you pled guilty in this case.
SB – I did, in this courtroom.
CS – pled guilty to influence judge lackey in Jones case. Balducci the tool to do that?
SB – yes, I did.
CS – We spent good bit of time going through records on Sept. 26-27, but bottom line is you said I did leave an order for Tim to pick up. Just not on 27 or 26th?
SB – not sure when left it.
CS – order he took to Lackey?
SB – Don’t know. Correct (he got order from me)
CS – When he said he talked to you on phone. Maybe 2-3 days after, he was correct, your records show conversation between you and him on his cell phone?
MOORE OBJECTS – MIS-STATING WHAT HAPPENED. RECORD WOULD BE BETTER THAN COUNSEL’S MEMORY.
BIGGERS – WITNESS MAY RESPOND
CS – Tim correct about conversation with you on phone around 24th?
SB – there is a record that I talked to him. (So, answer is yes?) I talked to him on phone.
CS – Talked on 24th, 2-minute conversation, how long take to say, about that thing, you’re OK, you’re covered?
SB – as you stated, just a few seconds.
CS – March 2007 meeting in Scruggs Law Firm. Zach there, you, Patterson, Balducci, Dickie Scruggs – you’re just not sure Dickie was there.
SB – not sure about Dickie. Not disputing Tim’s recollection he ws there. Met in large conference room.
CS – Tim said five of you met. Every one pled guilty to federal charges in this case to attempting to influene Lackey in Jones case. At that meeting, when got to Jones case, discussion that law firm had asked for arbitration but Jones refused. Then Jones filed lawsuit. At this meeting, discussion about that, getting it to arbitration, what are our options?
SB – don’t recall specifically
CS – Brought up at meeting about Tim’s close relationship with judge.
SB – yes
CS – Dickie wanted Tim to go see Lackey about arbitration?
SB – Don’t know it was beyond that, can’t say if what you said was one of the objectives.
CS – Tim said he’d ask to rule in favor of Scruggs side?
SB – don’t recall that being said.
CS – Dickie said be cautious, don’t get caught?
SB – Don’t really remember.
CS – Tim’s contact with Lackey would have to be concealed from the other side?
SB – correct
CS – Concealed form your own lawyers in the Jones case?
SB – correct
CS – approaching Lackey in this manner, was unethical?
SB – that’s correct / violated professional code of ethics
CS – where scheme launched to corruptly influence?
SB – kind of a legal question, can’ say.
CS – After meeting, Tim contacted Lackey. Prompted by meeting?
CS – Tim, at times, told you about contacts?
SB – correct
CS – late in March, Tim told you he asked Lackey as personal favor to consider dismissing some of allegations and sending rest to arbitration?
SB – I don’t recall specifically his telling me that.
CS – May – lawsuit filed, things happened, start again. Around My, you got in touch with Tim, there’d been a change in strategy, said want arbitration?
SB – not correct
CS – instead of kill shot? Firm wanted arbitration – you e-mailed Tim proposed order?
SB – don’t recall doing that.
CS – Tim told you he retyped it and faxed it to Lackey?
SB – don’t recall him telling me that, either.
CS – all concealed from plaintiffs in Jones case?
SB – asked several questions I haven’t agreed to it, but that may be over broad. But true to say Tim’s contact wasn’t revealed by us to plaintiffs.
CS – never told own attorneys?
SB – correct
CS – Then, May 9 – after meeting with Tim and Lackey, said judge receptive to arbitration?
SB – don’t recall that
CS – Sept. 18 – when Tim had call o Lackey, Tim told you that judge indicates he wanted money?
CS – used code word?
SB – no
CS – Sept. 21, Tim told you Lackey wanted $40K?
SB – no
CS – Tim told you he needed to know what you wanted to do, will you cover the $40K/
SB – no sir
CS – You said, I think that will be fine. Let me check.
SB – no sir
CS – Phone conversation, in your records to do it?
SB – no sir
CS – Then, you testified about recusal. How did you find out about that?
SB – I don’t recall
CS – before Tim knew?
SB – don’t know
CS – you called Tim, upset about it?
SB- no sir
CS – why called Tim in the first place?
SB – don’t know that I did, I could have, not sure
CS – You called Tim, see recusal, you know Tim’s been meeting with judge, order that’s been e-mailed or faxed to judge, judge says he’s going to recuse. Is that why you’re upset?
SB – no sir
CS – you said to get it under control?
SB – I did not
CS – Everyone at March meeting would be concerned about Lackey’s recusal?
SB – no sir
CS – Little lter, Lackey changed his mind. Resolved situation?
SB – he got back in the case
CS – Lackey out sort of upsets March meeting, the plan to influence him? Didn’t Tim say he doesn’t know if he has any strokes with another judge?
SB – long question, can you break it down?
CS – wouldn’t people be upset about judge getting out?
SB – no, we were concerned that case filed under seal. Having a new judge would put us on equal footing we wanted in first place.
CS – Tollison filed it under seal, as a tactic for plea negotiations with firm. What he did?
SB – wouldn’t call it a reasonable tactic.
CS – negotiating tactic?
SB – definitely
CS – Tollison letter says will unseal order. Order says it’s just sealed until March 19?
SB – think so.
CS – Oct. 18 – you testified that phone call, you and Tim talked about order Tim dropped off with Zach. Talked about Dick being generous. Got a few questions about that call.
(from transcript) (Replay that phone call)11:12 A.M.
(Backstrom in Moss point. Tim says swung by office, dropped off copy of “those papers” with Zach. Tim says don’t be surprised if you lawyers will tell you things look good in a few days. We got a little advance copy this afternoon. Tim says All is Well. Backstrom agrees. Tim says Dick hired him to prepare voir dire for Katrina trial in Jackson County to review others from other trials, do a little analysis. Says gave him retainer check for $40K. Backstrom says that’s good.)
CS – A few questions about call. (call transcript)
On that, where Tim says swung by office, saw Zach, dropped off papers. Talking about arbitration order?
SB – correct
CS – what his influence was suppose to produce?
SB – certainly wouldn’t hurt.
CS – Tim said it’s a home run?
SB – I don’t know if it’s home run.
CS – Tim says dropped off copy of “those paper”? His code for the order?
SB – correct
CS – you understood what talking about?
SB – yeh
CS – You asked him if it looked all right? Just like we wanted?
SB – yes, correct
CS – So Tim says not to be surprised about call from attorneys? They’ll find out after fact.
SB – correct
CS – (transcript) Later on, Tim says about Dick hiring him to prepare voir dire for upcoming trial. Retainer check for that. Now, when he says he was hired and given $40K.. he’s still talking in code?
SB – no, expetation he would do that work.
CS – he’s saying he’s covered for Lackey?
SB – no, that’s not what I understood
CS – Tim says “worked Out’ for everybody, that’s still code?
SB – no
CS – Tim says it all worked out for everyone. He’s talking about order for $40K is what worked out?
SB – I don’t know.
CS – And you’re saying good good good.
So, talking in code about the order, about the $40K, correct?
SB – no
CS – says he’s dropped off papers to Zach, getting paid $40K, things worked out?
SB – correct, that’s what he says
CS – so everything worked out? Because order to Zach? Is that why it worked out?
SB – it ultimately didn’t, there was no order entered. (little laugh from him)
CS – and that, is why the $40K is a good deal for everyone?
SB – did I say that, I think I did.
CS – you said order wasn’t entered. Tim dropped it off to Zach, you thought it was going to be entered. Wasn’t entered. He drops to Zach on 18th. By Oct. 31, no order entered?
SB – correct
CS – but Tim calls you on Oct. 31?
SB – correct
CS – Tim called you but you had something you wanted to bring up with him?
SB – I’d have to look at transcript.
CS – That’s short call, if we can play maybe it will refresh your memory.
(PLAY CALL – Sid says to Tim, about that thing you’ve been working on jury research. I still haven’t gotten that document. Tim says that’s why i’m coming over tomorrow. Sid says Dick’s about to melt down. Tim says I’m getting that handled in the morning.)
CS – Refresh?
SB – sure
CS – (uses transcript) Tim coming next day?
SB – correct
CS – you had something on your mind – wanted to ask him, about that thing, jury research. I still haven’t gotten that document. You weren’t talking about jury research, it was order?
SB – that’s correct. At that point, there was concern.
CS – you’re talking in code, so Tim says will be there next day. In fact on Nov. 1, when he showed up, he has an order. You said, Dick’s about to melt down. Why?
SB – I don’t remember why I mde that statement. Seems like Dick asked about the order. Why I was conveying that to him.
CS – big difference between asking about order or melt down?
SB – yehl true
CS – Said melt down, because you know why? Tim says will handle it tomorrow. Then Nov. 1 he shows up at law office, think you said coming back from lunch. Discussion with people around before go into your offie. Zach and others out there talking before go into office?
SB – I think we all were in office around same time.
CS – But you and Tim go into your office alone?
SB – Don’t recall.
CS – Tim brings you up to date on order. He says about Grady filing stuff, so judge added some stuff. Judge wants to make sure it’s OK before he signs it.
SB – That’s my general recollection.
CS – You were looking at order, then Zach stuck his head in door. Tim says you’re not interrupting. Let’s listen to start of tape.
(PLAY TAPE – Sid and Tim in office, Tim talks about Lackey deal and why it’s been changed somewhat and not yet filed. Grady files a bunch of stuff.)
CS – says Grady files stuff. Knew about that?
What’s when Zach comes in)
(Balducci – on tape/ MOORE OBJECTS – Zach walks right back out. Biggers – let transcript speak for itself.)
(Tim continues to explain what’s going on with order.)
CS – Zach left to take care of something. You’re still alone with Tim.
(Tape resumes – Tim continues about order and what judge did in response to Tollison papers. PAUSE ON TAPE.)
CS – Zach comes back?
SB – at some point he does.
(Tape – Tim says wants somebody here to review order. Says Zach, let me bring you up to date)
CS – when Zach comes in, stays for a while?
SB – correct
(Tim explains again to Zach about order changes. Zach asks what are new filings? Tim continues, says wants y’all to look at it and make edits needed before it was entered.)
CS – So, Tim was in there talking about the order, when Zach comes in …. Tim says, let me bring you up to speed. Why would he have to bring Zach up to speed?
Tim says to Zach this is on Judge Lackey deal
SB – he says that
CS – Zach didn’t say what are you talking about, he knew about it?
SB – I can’t speak about what he knew.
CS – Tim goes on for pages, three of you talking about order?
SB – correct
CS – Then, talk about it for a good while, finally secretary interrupts discusion about phone all. When she came in, confusion about who it might be. Zach said get name and number, he’s not there?
SB – I’d have to look at transcript.
CS – Let’s play that part (TAPE – doesn’t work – BIGGERS – RECESS FOR LUNCH)
BACK AT 1 P.M.
* * *
OXFORD – It’s Day 2 of Zach Scruggs’ hearing seeking to throw out his 2008 sentence and conviction that he knew about but failed to report a colleague’s illegal conversation with the judge presiding over a legal-fees lawsuit against the Scruggs Katrina Group.
Timothy Balducci, the government’s key informant in the initial judiciary bribery case against Scruggs and four others, was on the witness stand when proceedings recessed Monday.
Scruggs of Oxford insists that new evidence and a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision prove he is innocent. He’ll need to prove that to Senior U.S. District Judge Neal B. Biggers.
Other witnesses likely to be called by Scruggs’ attorneys are former law partner Sidney Backstrom and former Balducci partner Steve Patterson. (About 8:55 a.m., Backstrom walked into the courtroom with his attorney, Rhea Tannehill of Oxford. They then made their way behind the courtroom, likely to a witness room.)
Seen Monday as possible witnesses were former Circuit Judge Henry Lackey, who went undercover for the government after a perceived attempt by Balducci in March 2007 to offer some kind of reward for helping him and the Scruggses with the legal-fees lawsuit, and former prosecutors Tom Dawson and David Sanders. Dawson later co-wrote a book about the scandal and claimed false information provided to the court about Zach Scruggs’ knowledge of the Lackey bribe was the “crushing blow” that forced his 2008 guilty plea to avoid harsh punishment.
* * *
(The following is a running report of courtroom testimony and other activity. Please excuse the typos and other glitches likely to occur without benefit of time to edit. For previous hearing details and today’s update, go to www.NEMS360.com)
Lead attorneys for each side are Edward “Chip” Robertson and Michael Moore for Scruggs, and assistant U.S. attorneys Chad Lamar and Charlie Spillers. Players’ initials will be used in the report as they speak in court.
Biggers enters courtroom. Says Balducci was on the stand. ER says Balducci had a hardship today and he won’t seek more information from him.
ER – offers a wide range of documents to the court as evidence.
CL – May 9 conversation between Lackey-Balducci, provides transcript into evidence.
ER – Call Sid Backstrom
Mike Moore to question him. (Morning, your honor, Moore says with a smile.)
MM – Ask series of questions about events in 2007. First background.
SB – practiced law in MS in 1999, began with Richard Scruggs. He had settled tobacco case, some of partners weren’t going to continue so he was looking for new people. My dad was a circuit judge down there and made introductions. Worked in Pascagoula until 2003. Worked on managed heal
Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal