Scruggs Nation, March 13: more motions, more folly about publicity

USA v. Scruggs has had a flurry of motions in recent days that will be argued at a hearing tomorrow, and then you know what Monday is — last day for plea bargains.  Here are the motions. 

Motion to sever. This motion, which is a second try at coming up with reasons why the trial of Sid Backstrom and Zach Scruggs (Zach also endorsed or joined in the motion) should be separate from that of Dickie Scruggs, contains this interesting passage:

The impaneling of an “anonymous jury” is seldom used in American trials. Any resident who pays attention to the various “trials of the century” that have garnered extensive media attention, or who watches “Court TV,” “Law and Order,” “Perry Mason,” or even “Boston Legal” knows it. Impaneling an anonymous jury denies Mr. Backstrom his right to a jury of known individuals.

I love this! Because I talk about Boston Legal all the time on this blog and how it’s my chief source of knowledge about criminal procedure — which is why everything I know about criminal procedure is wrong.  For example, from watching that show, I would expect the trial to take roughly 35 minutes, and to feature substantial evidence of how global warming has led to a longer growing season for sweet potatoes, along with mandatory stupid closing rants about some politics du jour.

There also is a footnote about how blogs have gone with Scruggsurround Sound, and how this "incredible" level of publicity about Dickie Scruggs is endangering a fair trial for the other defendants, who — I guess this would be the implication — are allegedly much less allegedly involved.  Well, even with the number of readers way up, you have to keep some perspective — the number is small compared to the population of Mississippi, many readers are not in Mississippi at all much less northern Mississippi and readers tend to be hard-core information seekers and those who in some way would never be picked for a jury in the first place because of some self-interest in these proceedings, because of who they work for or because they hold very strong opinions about what is going on.  As far as the level of publicity from mainstream media, with a few exceptions, it’s not very high or very aggressive.

One clarification in the footnote: my readership isn’t up "15-20 more readers" as it says there, I estimated 15 to 20 times more.  I know, I know, it’s just a typo, no biggie, I make them all the time myself. Just sayin’.  Anyway, I place no faith in numbers, could be more, could be less.  As you know, I was happy writing about Katrina litigation and insurance coverage issues, and Scruggs just happened to melt down on my watch.   

Motion to compel discovery.

Dooley Affidavit.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C (partial transcript of the February 20 motion hearing, featuring testimony by Tim Balducci)

Exhibit D

Motion to reconsider anonymous jury. This motion has a long section about how inflammatory and pervasive the Scruggs coverage has been, and this section, with the exception of a few points I would agree with, is completely wrong. 

Let me put it to you this way: say a doctoral candidate in media studies wrote a dissertation on how the mainstream media in Mississippi has been super-aggressive, coming out with investigative stories every couple days on Scruggs, really blowing the coverage out.  Do you think this person could defend this malarkey against challenge?  Good Lord, wake up and smell the sweet potatoes!  There’s hardly been any coverage at all compared to what there should be.   

And that stuff about blog readership and the number of people reading the papers?  Come on, if you think any blog involved in the day to day Scruggs coverage has had 222,000 people reading it in the past few weeks, you need an intervention and a reintroduction to reality.  All those numbers cited? They are all fake.  You can measure stuff with any number of deceptive statistics — blog sitemeters are notorious for inflating the traffic to make bloggers feel good about themselves. Same with newspaper circulation figures and online numbers. That’s why I pay no attention to those kinds of things.  

I will agree with one thing, however, and that is the disgusting nature of some online comments noted in the brief.  I won’t publish garbage like that, and most of the idiots who would write something like that don’t even try me anymore.  No matter what we think of what allegedly happened, we are still talking about our fellow human beings here, and let’s remember — each of us is capable of good and evil.  That’s why we punish evil — to guard against our tendency to want to do it.



Filed under Industry Developments

9 Responses to Scruggs Nation, March 13: more motions, more folly about publicity

  1. MS Smitty

    ~~~ “You can measure stuff with any number of deceptive statistics — blog sitemeters are notorious for inflating the traffic to make bloggers feel good about themselves.” ~~~
    Thank you David for speaking the truth.
    I sometimes believe that the proprietors of other blogs/aggregators following the Scruggs affair need to pump themselves in order to justify, in their own minds, the tremendous expenditures in time their online ventures suck out of their lives.
    This reader appreciates your not needing to engage in the needless self-infatuation too prevalent elsewhere. In makes for a much more enjoyable reading experience.

  2. HumptyDumpty

    Great post – Being in the insurance world I find this site to be a helpful source of information. Whether that is a quick fix on my Scruggs addiction or on direct day-to-day work/life related issues.

  3. Engineer

    Please give us a few words describing an anonymous jury. Does it only mean that their names are not made public or is there more to it than that?

  4. dixie68

    Well, I thought I had looked at the Clarion Ledger website on a daily basis, but I was surprised at the quotes, as I completely missed all of them. However, I now understand why P. L Blake was paid his millions of dollars, as it would take time to clip that many articles.

  5. HumptyDumpty

    Ah, good ole PL…that guy is the combination of a modern day Tenzing Norge and Keyser Soze. A complete mystery man that apparently can get things done. It’s undbelievable to me that he has escaped indictment (so far)

  6. Steven

    Does anyone know what time the hearing starts tomorrow?

  7. M Williams

    Well, during the Medicaid Lawsuit in Mississippi, [it spread later], there was a “Equity Court” bench trial in Pascagoula which was in the hands of Judge Myers [now elevated in his Honor’s path of moving the billionaire’s ball forward, but not quite enough to get him into the Supreme Court of Mississippi.
    He was promoted though, and presided over something Don and Dickie called “home-cooking” over and over again. That was down off Hiway 90.
    Now Don Barrett, who lived in largese as if he were Tolstoy, had a fiefdom of former slaves, which, knew that he could do no wrong. Don had the perfect “home cooking” grounds, because he and his family had turned full circle over the years from lording to lordy – a sort of Tolstoy epiphany of “let them go free”.
    That’s not racist. When Tolstoy freed his “Christian slaves” they were pretty light – presumably, the “white Russian”. So Tolstoy and Barrett had something other than potatos in common.
    Barrett’s tobacco fights never asked for change of venue. There was good reason.
    Don Barrett’s family had the best juror grounds, because nobody hated him.
    So when Don got a godsend case, a Mr. Horton, who happened to be African-American, Don was in his nest.
    Good ‘n Ready territorial “cooking ground” -good enough to roast the best tobacco lawyers. He had the press waiting for decisions. He had no plea for change of venue – he had nutured generations of familial poverty.
    The tobacco companies were so fearful of the Barrett cases, they fumed and fussed. How could they get a fair case in a 99 per cent something “black” jury pool, and almost all of them loved “Mr. Barret”?
    That ephiphany is interesting. In 1988-89, the Times and the Wall Street Journal – the market – watched and waited in Don’s hometown for the dish to be served.
    Don had field pea and grits advantage, had built up what was the perfect battlefield for “big tobacco” to get whacked by a 2 per cent negligence rule in wrongful death – he had good “law”. So cooking began. And he lost, and he lost. But Dickie learned from that. How?
    According to Dickie and Don, “The tobacco people saw the jury seated. When they took the names, they hired a local to go visit each juror, and one by one, they had a little talk.”
    At one point, I recall, Don screamed about jury tampering, but I think it was after he lost Horton.
    What the tobacco boys allegedly did was to go to the juror’s relatives with 10 k, and say, you share “dis heah wid yo poe son – or poe uncle, aunt, or whoever. They said it “worked”.
    It was quite a simple trick. If that story is true, tobacco was not above leveling the plantation field. I think it was pretty clever, and nobody ever got caught.
    Dickie and Don were fond of this story. The ethics of some of the tobacco lawyers, as Don insisted, and I agree, had long since won cases where they shouldn’t have – and they did awful things.
    Mississippi “amorphous Plaintiff” theory, was home cooking learned from tobacco companies – that “home cooking” found it’s way in Equity Court.
    One judge in Ocean Springs was enough to get an ear or two, and nobody thought anything about it – afterall, the theory was created especially for “Equity Court”.
    Problem with getting the theory of moving a case is always similar to which place is best to shoot a scene for a movie.
    Oxford is good. But Oxford is hardly like “home cooking” for these Defendants.
    I hardly think that there’d be a lot of difference down the road – there’s a casket factory in one direction, and Antibellum’s in another direction. Of course, Jerry Lee Lewis doesn’t live too far from Oxford.
    I think Jerry Lee Lewis would love to be called.

  8. ghostwriter

    Did anyone else notice the number of newspaper articles attached from the Greenwood Commonwealth, P.L.’s old stomping ground? Wonder if P.L. was helping with those clippings?

  9. ghostwriter

    Steven, Folo is reporting the hearing/pretrial conference starts at 10 a.m.