Last summer, Scruggs, 36, of Oxford, asked the federal court to throw out his 2008 conviction and prison term, saying new evidence and a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision put his circumstances in a new light.
He 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.
Biggers set an April 25 hearing in Oxford where, his order said, “testimony will be given by live witnesses who have personal knowledge of the facts on the issues raised.”
Scruggs, the order said, had asked for depositions on several issues. But the judge said the evidence would be considered in open court with live witnesses.
Scruggs wanted to question at least a dozen potential witnesses under oath before they got to the hearing and to bring in new evidence, as well as secure government admissions about certain aspects of the case. Prosecutors opposed the action.
Edward D. Robertson Jr. of Missouri, Scruggs’ lead attorney, declined to comment on the judge’s decision.
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 father, Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, as well as Timothy Balducci, Steven Patterson, Sid Backstrom, Judge Henry Lackey, ex-prosecutor Tom Dawson and others.
Biggers’ order says his court hasn’t received any names to subpoena yet.
In earlier documents, Scruggs insisted that certain information wasn’t available to his attorneys or even existed when he pleaded guilty.
“The alleged ‘new’ evidence did ‘exist’ at the time of the guilty plea,” the judge wrote in a footnote. It “simply was not known by the petitioner at the time.”
The judge also sealed Ashland attorney Tony Farese’s response to Scruggs’ complaint about him to the Mississippi Bar Association. Farese was Scruggs’ attorney while he also represented Booneville attorney Joey Langston in another case related to Dickie Scruggs.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.