Senior U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson ordered the former Oxford litigator released from a Montgomery, Ala., prison while the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals considers his appeal of a Davidson decision.
May 23, Davidson rejected Scruggs’ contention that he did not seek to bribe then-Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter when he offered his support to DeLaughter’s quest for a federal judgeship. Scruggs’ brother-in-law, Trent Lott, was one of Mississippi’s two U.S. senators at the time and one half of the state’s decision-makers for federal judicial appointments.
Scruggs, 66, contends it was “political speech,” not bribery and appealed to the 5th Circuit. He pleaded guilty to the charge in early 2009.
Scruggs completed his jail time for his 2008 guilty plea to a scheme to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey, and he asked Davidson to allow him out of prison while the DeLaughter appeal was considered.
Five years ago this week, Scruggs and four others were arrested and charged in the Lackey case. All of them pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison.
Scruggs was the only one of them still serving time.
Lackey and DeLaughter presided over legal-fees lawsuits against Scruggs and others.
To win the bail motion, Scruggs had to prove he wasn’t a flight risk, that his appeal wasn’t to delay, that it raised substantial questions of law and that, if he wins his appeal, his sentence would be reversed or a new trial ordered that could result in no imprisonment or with reduced imprisonment.
In his appeal to Davidson, Scruggs’ attorneys argued that it would be wrong to hold Scruggs in prison longer than the Lackey sentence, then have the DeLaughter conviction overturned.
It wasn’t immediately clear how soon Scruggs will be released to return home.