Zach Scruggs asks for another try with 5th Circuit appeal

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Attorneys for Zach Scruggs of Oxford ask a federal appeals court to reconsider his 2008 conviction and sentence in a judicial bribery scandal.
A three-judge panel for the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit recently denied Scruggs’ latest efforts to clear his name.
Thursday, Scruggs’ counsel asked the 5th Circuit either to re-hear his issues or to present his case before the court’s full panel of 15 judges.
His 16-page brief claims the earlier denial “conflicts with the authoritative decisions” of other U.S. courts of appeal.
He presses his case on three issues:
* The panel acknowledged he was convicted of a non-crime but failed to grant relief.
* The judges refused to consider his “actual innocence” or reasons to void procedural default.
* By supporting the district court’s limits on jurisdiction, the panel conflicts with decisions of at least five other federal circuits.
Scruggs, 38, was indicted in late 2007 with his famous litigator father, Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs, and three others accused of conspiring to bribe a judge for a favorable ruling in a legal-fees lawsuit against the Scruggses and others.
The others ultimately cut deals to plead guilty to one count and went to prison. All but Dickie Scruggs have completed their sentences.
Zach Scruggs steadfastly denied he knew anything about a bribe, but pleaded guilty to not reporting that he knew a colleague spoke illegally to the judge.
He spent 14 months in prison, lost his law license and paid a $250,000 fine.
Scruggs and his attorneys insist a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision made a “non-crime” of what he pleaded guilty to knowing about.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com