I’ll have a few more things to say about yesterday’s orders by Judge Biggers, which are in this post from yesterday, when I have time to post, which will be over my lunch hour today. Don’t want you to think I’ve forgotten about these.
What is striking to me about Judge Biggers’ orders denying defendants’ motions is how short the orders were — not much wringing of hands or fussing around. The order denying defendants’ motion to suppress wiretap evidence, for example, was only five pages and from the looks of it, the actual number of words in it is substantially less than my average Scruggs Nation post.
That order cuts right to the heart of the matter and refutes the defendants’ notion that the initial meeting between Tim Balducci and Judge Lackey did not involve "corrupt overtures." As the judge points out, sending an attorney not involved in the case, unbeknownst to opposing counsel, to trade on his personal friendship with the objective of influencing the judge is certainly corrupt enough. As Judge Biggers wrote:
In the same meeting with Judge Lackey, Balducci offered Judge Lackey a job as "of counsel" in Balducci’s law firm when the judge chose to retire. These actions are certainly a clear and gross violation of all known codes of ethics applicable to attorneys and judicial officers.
The judge’s order denying the motion to exclude evidence of prior related bad acts by Dickie and Zach Scruggs — their alleged involvement in a plot to influence Judge Bobby DeLaughter — was also a big blow to the defendants. Biggers spent barely more than three pages on this order.
There is no question that the extrinsic evidence offered in the present case constitutes a similar alleged act within the meaning established by the aforementioned case law. The 404(b) evidence reveals (1) the employing of a person not an attorney of record to approach a state court judge (2) with the intent to corrupt the state court judge in regard to (3) a fee dispute (4) involving two of the defendants herein as well as two others who have already entered guilty please in this case — all substantially the same elements as charged in the conspiracy count before the court in the present case.
Let’s also remember that, in addition to these charges, Scruggs faces potential charges in the DeLaughter matter. Why is the government going to present this prior bad acts evidence of his alleged involvement but not charge him with a crime? It may be that the government wants to get this case out of the way, and a superseding indictment would lead to delay that is unacceptable to someone.
Lastly, I want to address a recurrent theme I hear about this prosecution, the alleged plot to influence DeLaughter and the criminal contempt of court prosecution of Scruggs in Alabama. That theme is that Scruggs is too smart and sophisticated to be involved in dumb stuff like this — it’s "too dumb for Dickie," in the words of one of his famous, rich friends.
Scruggs undoubtedly was involved, in the Alabama case, in sending the Rigsby documents to Hood instead of returning them to the attorneys for the sisters’ former employers as ordered. But even with that case, some presume he must have had some grand, sophisticated insight into the law, and that his non-compliance was either legally permissible or not worth bothering such a figure about.
This reasoning is a mystery to me for a couple reasons. First, what evidence is there that smart people don’t do dumb things? In my observation, other than the truly and incorrigibly stupid, no group of people is so prone to dumbness as smart people. Second, merely because something is not sophisticated does not mean it will not work well and work better than something complicated. We are so inured to complex schemes like Enron and hiding the source of campaign contributions that we forget — when it comes to being crooked, simpler is usually better, less risky and easier to remember. Why involve some sheik from Saudi Arabia, a London solicitor living in his Mum’s basement and a couple former Congressmen to deliver a bushel of sweet potatoes? It’s better to keep it all in the family. Think of Scruggs’ statement a few years ago about the Magic Jurisdictions in Mississippi, where it’s all just a put-on, where justice is just a puppet show for the foolish and the gullible.
And people also ask why, why would he do it? To which I say, why does anyone do anything? Because you want to and you can.