Here’s a pdf of the judge’s order. More when I have a minute to read it.
UPDATE: I read it, and all I can say is thank goodness, it has been a long time coming — finally, a case where the criminal justice system doesn’t railroad a famous, rich, white guy! Famous rich friends of Dickie Scruggs — it’s party time!
Although the judge did allow that it might have looked bad that Scruggs defied the terms of the injunction, Judge Vinson cited two reasons why the charge of criminal contempt could not stand against Scruggs:
First, the court had no jurisdiction because Scruggs was not active in the Renfroe v. Rigsby case — he was the Rigsby sisters’ lawyer in another capacity.
Second, Scruggs did not violate the injunction because of its "law enforcement exception."
About the first reason, what a relief to know that one can escape any punishment merely by not being the attorney of record in a case — it is so much better to pay someone else to be the attorney of record, and sit back and actually pull the strings while taking none of the heat!
About the second, this is also good to know — that an exception that allows the parties to cooperate with law enforcement, also will allow a guy the judge just said isn’t affiliated with the case or representing any party to "cooperate" with law enforcement by using the very documents that are the subject of the injunction to play keep-away.
All in all, a good day’s work, and a vindication of the principles of playing games with judicial orders.
One final thing — you remember how these documents were supposed to be sent to Hood under the "law enforcement exception" so they wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands and hurt Hood’s grand jury investigation? How soon we forget. Look at Hood’s press release from when the settlement with State Farm was announced in January 2007, the settlement where he agreed not to prosecute the insurer:
"After months of heated negotiations, I am happy to announce that our office has reached a settlement agreement with State Farm in our state court litigation,” said Attorney General Jim Hood.
Months of negotiations? Let’s see, the documents were sent to Hood in mid-December 2006. Well, then . . . I guess, just maybe, protecting the grand jury process wasn’t really the motive for sending the documents after all. Why not? For starters, let’s remember that we’ve heard some substantial evidence that, about this very time, Scruggs was pressuing Hood to drop the criminal investigation so State Farm would settle civil cases with Scruggs.