Patterson-, Balducci-related letters making the rounds in Mississippi

This letter regarding Steve Patterson, one of five people indicted in the alleged Scruggs scheme to bribe a state court judge, has been circulating around Mississippi, and the authenticity of it appears to check out.  The letter is by Stephen Livingston, the president of the Union County bar association, to the General Counsel of the Mississippi Bar, and raises issues of whether Patterson, a non-attorney, was wrongly representing himself to be a lawyer or practicing law without a license. Make sure you keep reading through the attachments. including further letters by Livingston, until you get to the letter by Tim Balducci to Livingston. 

[UPDATE: A reader raised the question that, since page 3 of the nine pages of the fax is missing from the documents I have, and that this page would appear to be the page of the August 1 letter that bore the signature of the writer, that it may not be Balducci that wrote the letter, but rather Steve Patterson.  I will try to check this out and get back to you.  SECOND UPDATE: I confirmed with someone who saw the signature on the letter that it was signed by Balducci].

 From the dates of the letters and the time on the fax line on top of the documents, it would appear Balducci got word of the inquiry from the state bar and immediately fired back a letter to Livingston that was built around the sarcastic premise that some nut had stolen Livingston’s letterhead.  Check out this paragraph:

These letters are of particular concern to me personally as they clearly evidence the warped inner-workings of the mind of an obviously disturbed and confused individual, as I am sure you will agree.  The references in the letters to the writer’s scouring of the internet, phone books and newspapers about me and my firm strikes me as border-line stalking.  Frankly, they make me wonder if the unidentified author of these letters might have a "man crush" on me or other members, colleagues. associates [add appropriate terminology to your satisfaction here to refer to same], of my firm.

(Emphasis in original).

Harsh!  Did you see that?  Balducci "man crushed" him!  Now, I do not claim to be a psychologist (however, I have seen people play psychologists on TV!), but this kind of fighting spirit would not seem to me to be that of a man who, as of the date of the letter — August 1 — has been turned by the FBI and knows Patterson, himself and his whole firm are on the verge of far greater problems than allegedly causing confusion over whether Patterson is a lawyer.  So this correspondence would tend to support a theory that Balducci did not begin cooperating with the FBI and prosecutors — if in fact he did so prior to his recent plea agreement — until after August 1.

As I have mentioned, the otherwise seemingly inexplicable "extra $10,000" payment that Balducci allegedly told Dickie Scruggs was needed to bribe the judge is evidence that Balducci was cooperating at that point (Balducci apparently never delivered the money to the judge — what would be the point if he were cooperating, since both Balducci and the judge would have known the transaction was fake), and that Balducci went back to Scruggs to get additional incriminating evidence at the direction of prosecutors.  But that was in early November.  The Balducci "man crush" letter was three months earlier — long after the bribery scheme allegedly began in March, but perhaps with an FBI confrontation of Balducci some time yet in the future.  


Filed under Industry Developments

8 Responses to Patterson-, Balducci-related letters making the rounds in Mississippi

  1. Amazing

    Please provide more insight into Patterson’s guilt or innocence in the bribery scheme based on what we know so far. I think he was the mastermind.

  2. more cowbell

    David -nice bit of work. Looking at Balducci’s letterhead, he has a fine stable at hand– former Governor Bill Allain, N.D. Clerk of Court Norman Gillespie, District Attorney of the capitol city Ed Peters, and a Chancery Judge.
    Reading Balducci’s letter to Livingston shows Balducci to be a pompous windbag. Perhaps he was on a frolic of his own with Judge Lackey. He sure stumbled over his words on the wiretap, as opposed to the language he used in his letter.
    Braggadocio Balducci!

  3. Brandon

    Thank you for all your posts. This is where i go for all the up to minute updates on this case.

  4. David Rossmiller

    Responding to Amazing, my presumption is of course that Patterson and all the rest of the defendants are innocent until proven guilty. As far as Patterson’s role, it is not evident from the indictment who allegedly had the orginal idea or was the alleged mastermind. We will have to wait and see how prosecutors present their case and how the various defense lawyers spin their cases.


    It’s letters like Balducci’s letter to Livingstone and the allegations against the “Scruggs 5” that perpetuate the trial bars stereotype.

  6. David Rossmiller

    Responding to More Cowbell, a moniker which suggests to me you are a long time reader, this series of letters does suggest the type of person who is inclined to view allegations of “small infractions” as small time, worthy of disdain. Many observers in Mississippi peg Balducci as a wannabe, they dispute the accuracy of statements on his website, but let’s also remember he was appointed by Hood as a special assistant, whether that means anything about his skills or not may be debatable, but it does indicate that he was within some definition of a player. Remember also that Judge Lackey, in the Wall Street Journal interview, pegged Balducci as a rising star. This alleged scheme may or may not have been his idea, but either way, his involvement in it may have been in his mind a ticket to the Scruggs inner circle. Time will tell. You know, I can say one other thing. Some say why would anyone take this risk over such a small sum. Let’s recall that the fight was not over $40,000 in bribe money but millions in fees, and although the order from Judge Lackey was not dispositive, every lawyer has been in cases where opponents routinely break the rules in all kinds of ways they figure will be hard to prove. It’s evident from the ubiquitousness of this conduct that it is habit, not a temporary expedient. I am not suggesting that alleged bribery was a habit with anyone in this case, but an attitude towards litigation of winning at all costs rather than performance as a quasi-public “officer of the court” can lead to excess on a frequent basis. I have seen plenty of lawyers who snort at the idea of being an officer of the court, their concept of lawyering is they represent an interest and will go wherever that concept leads. That is not my concept of attorney conduct — I believe lawyers are in fact officers of the court and have a duty and responsibility of fair play and good faith not only to the court but to opposing counsel and opposing parties. Although some laugh at this very notion as naive and outdated, it looks pretty good right now, doesn’t it?

  7. “. . . their concept of lawyering is they represent an interest and will go wherever that concept leads. . .”
    Mr. Rossmiller, You sound like a good man and good attorney like Judge Coleman and Judge Lackey and who represent a tiny fraction of those who practice law in Mississippi.

  8. Donn