UPDATE: Scruggs’, others’ early releases may be before court

OXFORD – Sealed motions in the judicial bribery case known as “Scruggs I” could be early prison-release requests for Richard “Dickie” Scruggs of Oxford and others, a new U.S. District Court document suggests.

Another order signed Monday appoints Judge Sharion Aycock to preside over a parallel civil case, Wilson v. Scruggs et al, after the self-recusal Friday by Senior Judge Neal B. Biggers Jr.

Called “Scruggs I” by prosecutors, the criminal case involves the admitted attempt to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City by Scruggs, then one of the nation’s most prominent plaintiffs’ attorneys, former state Auditor Steven A. Patterson, then-New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci and Scruggs’ law partner Sidney Backstrom. They are serving prison terms.

Scruggs’ son, Zach, who pleaded guilty to a lesser offense, recently completed his prison term.

“I’d guess that this means that the government has filed motions in Scruggs I for a benefit for defendants’ cooperation for assisting in the case against DeLaughter – which could mean for Scruggs, Patterson or Balducci,” wrote Oxford attorney Thomas Freeland IV on his Internet blog Monday. Backstrom wasn’t involved in the DeLaughter scheme.

The three reportedly gave information to prosecutors about Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter of Hinds County, who later was federally indicted on charges he allowed himself to be bribed by Scruggs and others for help in a long-running legal fees dispute with attorney W. Roberts Wilson.

Read more details in Tuesday’s Daily Journal and come back to NEMS360.com.

Patsy Brumfield/Daily Journal