Scruggs, 36, last summer asked the federal court to throw out his 2008 conviction and prison sentence, saying new evidence and a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision put his circumstances in a new light – he even insists he is innocent of the charge that he knew about but didn't report a colleague's illegal conversation with a judge presiding over a legal-fees lawsuit against him and others.
"The court is providing petitioner the necessary facilities and procedures for an adequate inquiry into the issues he raises by setting a hearing on his section 2255 motion to vacate for April 25, 2011, where evidence will be received in a United States District Court and where testimony will be given by live witnesses who have personal knowledge of the facts on the issues raised," said Biggers' order today.
"The petitioner has presented affidavits on these issues. The petitioner has quoted from a book written on these issues. The petitioner has requested that he be allowed to take depositions on these issues. In resolving the issues raised by the petitioner, the court is going to consider evidence in open court from live witnesses in accordance with the Rules of Evidence."
Scruggs wanted to question at least a dozen potential witnesses under oath before they got to the hearing. Prosecutors opposed the action.
If Scruggs winds up subpoenaing witnesses to the hearing, they could include key figures in a judicial bribery scandal that rocked Mississippi's legal community – including his famous father, Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, as well as Timothy Balducci, Steven Patterson, Sid Backstrom, Judge Henry Lackey, ex-prosecutor Tom Dawson and others.
Read Thursday's NEMS Daily Journal for more details.