I like catch phrases like "Scruggs Nation" and so forth — like any brand name, it signals the consumer what is coming without a lot of extraneous verbiage. I’ve been less successful in thinking of a brand for posts featuring Jim Hood — he’s more of a localized phenomenon than Scruggs, and unlike Scruggs, I have yet to receive conclusive evidence that the "nation" cares about Hood. So I am trying Hood Nation out today for reader reactions. Actually, Hood and Scruggs were working as a team for so long that, back in the day, I often thought they should have spun off a line of products to capitalize on their fame under the "Hoodnscruggs" trademark.
One product that came to mind for this Hoodnscruggs brand was a kind of frozen waffle/scrambled eggs type of thing with a celebrity endorsement by, say, John Travolta: "You know, when I’m on the set of a movie, sometimes I have to get up pretty early, and there’s not a lot of time for breakfast. So I just pop a couple Hoodnscruggs waffleggs in the toaster, and in less than a minute, I’ve got a tasty, nutritious meal, with the syrup I need to get me going in the morning." I also thought about a set of compact weights for use in the office called the Strongarm — "You need a workout every day, because you never know when you’ll need to put the Strongarm on someone. The Strongarm office weight set — pumps you up, and works great as a paperweight too. It’s got a pleasing streamlined look, looks so good people will think you got a new work of art for your office. The Strongarm — makes you tough, tough as a state prosecutor or a top tort lawyer." Another one — a set of hidden microphones called the Little Squealer, "for your favorite confidential informant." But, I guess the moment has passed. It wasn’t only to virgins that Herrick was speaking when he said to make much of time:
GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run, And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first, When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime, You may for ever tarry.
So, now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s make much of time ourselves, and look at some developments in the Hoodnscruggs Nation.
— Oh my goodness, did you see the filing a couple days ago by U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee, in the Scruggs scandal, of this notice of intent to use evidence of similar acts? The thought popped into my head, how many similar acts are there?
— And yesterday, Judge Biggers denied Scruggs’ request to reconsider Biggers’ prior denial of Scruggs’ earlier request to add to his lawyer harem an attorney who used to represent Steve Patterson, formerly a co-defendant but who has since pleaded guilty in the case. Biggers is a good writer — gets to the point, makes his point and then stops writing. Here’s an excerpt from his opinion:
Defendant Richard F. Scruggs bases the present motion on his assertion of an alleged Sixth Amendment right to the counsel of his choice, requesting “that the Court give due weight to his constitutional right to counsel of his own choosing.” The primary purpose of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, however, is to guarantee a defendant the right to effective counsel — not to counsel of his choosing . . . .
Defendant Richard Scruggs can hardly complain that to deny his motion to approve Mr. Coghlan as one of his attorneys is to deprive him of the assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment. Defendant Scruggs has five eminent attorneys of record at present. The court has waived for the defendant the local rule requiring local counsel – a rule not strictly enforced in criminal cases when the court finds a defendant represented by competent counsel from other federal court districts. It would, thus, appear disingenuous for Scruggs to claim that without Mr. Coghlan on his team, he will be deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel.
— Let’s talk a bit about the State Farm v. Hood case. You know, this case kind of reminds me of something you might see in one of the cruder kids’ movies, where some kid is getting picked on by a tough kid in elementary school, maybe this tough guy, he’s running with some kid version of a gang, say, something called the Hoodnscruggs Gang — you know the dumb names kids come up with. Well, in one scene of the movie the tough guy is gloating to his gang, and the picked-on kid comes up behind him and pantses him. Bango! And everyone laughs as the tough guy is toddling around the school yard with his trousers down around his ankles and his shorts flapping in the breeze.
There is lots of new activity in the case. Here’s something that caught my eye: this notice of intent by State Farm to serve a subpoena on Courtney Schloemer, one of Hood’s assistant AG’s, for her attendance at the big row coming on February 6, the hearing about whether the injunction against Hood’s criminal prosecution of the insurer should stay or go. Schloemer, you may remember, worked with Hood’s grand jury, and according to the Brian Ford notes, she discussed his potential testimony before the grand jury with one of the Scruggs Katrina Group attorneys. (Click here for a post I wrote that has a link to the unredacted Ford notes, the link is about halfway down the post).
Now, you may say so what, it’s debatable about who is using whom in that transaction. And I will say, I see your point but I don’t buy it — it looks bad, just like it looks bad if what Lee Harrell said in his deposition is true, that Scruggs tried to strongarm George Dale into backing some play to set him up as a Katrina czar with State Farm money, and that Hood was working with Scruggs to strongarm State Farm into settling civil cases through threats of criminal investigation.
Despite what she said about me to Legal Newsline, I have no ill will toward Courtney Schloemer. I’m sure she’s trying to do her job as she thinks best. Plus, I dish it out, so I reckon I can take it, too. I’m a litigator, if I got upset about every instance of someone giving me the skunk eye I’d never get anything done.
As to that subpoena, it didn’t take State Farm long to transfer its intent into an actual subpoena, which was served on Schloemer at 7:02 p.m. yesterday, it says, IN THE PARKING GARAGE OUTSIDE HER OFFICE. Dang, you know, when I read this I felt sorry for her, someone laying for you with process, you’re just trying to get in your car and get home. But of course, she and the Prisoner of High Street have, I’m sure, caused more than a few hearts to flutter by serving subpoenas in similar ways. Your perspective, it all depends on which end of the microscope you’re on.
The other big news from State Farm v. Hood yesterday is that Hood, who knows what it’s like to get pantsed, is trying to keep his confidential informant from being likewise pantsed in a State Farm deposition scheduled for Friday. Check out the bench memorandum State Farm filed yesterday. A letter from Hood’s lawyer to the Magistrate Judge is attached as Exhibit A, and an e-mail string involving Scruggs’ attorney, John Keker, is attached as Exhibit B. Hood and Scruggs, together again. Maybe that Hoodnscruggs line of products might sell after all. Waffleggs, anyone?
By the way, from last Friday, here’s State Farm’s response to Hood’s motion to dissolve the injunction, including all the exhibits that go with it. One of these exhibits is Exhibit I, Hood’s testimony to Congress in February 2007. Read it, and ask yourself, should he be making statements like that regarding an ongoing criminal investigation before a state grand jury?
Here’s a copy of State Farm’s memorandum in opposition, which is much the same as the response linked to above.