Friday, February 29, 2008

Tournament by Shelby Foote

Reading Tournament by Shelby Foote gives one an understanding of the culture of Mississippi especially the culture and character of those in power. A masculine culture -- hunting, card playing, winning at being planters, winning and being involved in winning.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Judical Entrapment Violates the Rule of Law

Use of judge in an entrapment violates the fundamental principle upon which the judicial process is founded -- the rule of law, or rule by law. The rule of law is the opposite of the rule of power or judgment of power. The foundation of the rule of law is that the "end does not justify the means." Justice cannot be acheived if its basis is injustice, law breaking. When a judge becomes a government agent in an entrapment, the judiciary becomes an agent in breaking the law so as to punish one caught in the trap of the entrapment. See Wikiscruggs.

Existential Meanderings

I have been reading some of the internet journals (blogs) which focus on the Scruggs Litigation. One is a solo effort. Another a joint effort. Yet another a solo effort which brings in other sources mostly from the first two. A national newspaper with a "law blog." A person with a "tort reform" agenda. The sites are interesting but, . . . I guess it seems the authors all are true believers of one sort or another.

I have not found, at least so far, any sites which are written by true believers for Dick Scruggs, Zach Scruggs and Sidney Backstrom.

I do not know where I stand on the question of the guilt or innocence of the defendants. Right now it seems they have not a friend in the world. That is unfair, I think. I admit to being a bit partial to the guy the apparatus of government is going after. Despite my belief the mind of man, let us say man's government, can be a good thing and do good things and protect people from the bad guys and even ourselves, I have a healthy distrust of it.

When a person becomes a government employee or an elected representative of the people he does not become smarter nor more ethical than he was before he got the job. Suffice it to say, we are all sinners and power does have a real tendency to corrupt. So the good guys are not always perfect and the bad guys are not always bad. In fact the dividing line between good and evil probably runs through the soul of each person, each and every person, involved in the situation.

At the moment, at the moment of my self directed involvement and self sponsored involvement I have to admit to some real tough questions moving though my mind about the situation and the main players in the situation.

A topic which keeps coming up is the question of entrapment. I hope I stick with this topic. Simply put, there is something (which seems to me) insidious in the use of a sitting judge as a government agent offering to be bribed in a bribery entrapment scheme. Especially one who is a close friend of the person and family of one of the targets of the scheme.

What has happened in the Scruggs Litigation seems contrary to our value of "rule by law." Contrary in several respects.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Evidence of Other Crimes, For What Purpose?

I read today Judge Biggers is going to allow evidence of other crimes. This is the the Wilson v. Scruggs, Judge Bobby DeLaughter, Trent Lott, Joey Langston, Tim Balducci, Ed Peters, Steve Paterson stuff. Evidence for what purpose? Can you really use "evdence of other crimes" to prove the pre-isposition necessary for the government to say there was no entrapment? Seems a stretch. And, then, whose pre-disposition is being established -- the pre-disposition of someone who is not a party to the acceptance of the judge's offered bribe. My head is spinning. It does not seem "other crime evidence" can be used to establish pre-disposition.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Public Corruption in Office of US Attorney?

Last night's 60 Minutes piece on Don Seigelman raises concern about the US Attorney's Office. The question must be asked: Is the Office of the United States Attorney being used for political purposes? Is it selecting and processing cases which have political objectives rather than law enforcement objectives? Are the motives of the prosecution politics rather than law enforcement? Is the goal (a)the exercise of power or (b) the exercise of law enforcement and justice?

Such questions are extremely important when government actually induces conduct which is then said to be criminal. And, in the Scruggs Litigation, extremely important when a sitting judge in a particular case is used as a government agent to cause a person who comes in contact with the judge to accept a bribe the judge has proposed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Entrapment Per Se

Dick Scruggs and Zach Scruggs and Sid Backstrom have an argument that the conduct of the government is "entrapment per se" or "entrapment as a matter of law." The reasons for this are being developed at

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Personal Injury Cases 2008

It is just a calm Thursday evening in Spokane, maybe any city in the United States. I am watching some mindless television programs on a local station as I work at this or that at my desk. The ads are interesting. At 6:00 PM someone was advertising that his company bought personal injury lawsuits. "Why wait. We will give you your money now." And then a beautiful young woman in a wheelchair comes on and says something about getting her "money from [(let's say) Get Your Money Now] right away" and not having to "wait for a court date."

At 6:45 a nice young man comes up on the TV screen and says some thing like "[i]f you have been injured, call me, Blah Blah "One Call, That's All!" This guy's a young "legal" entrepreneur from Utah who is making quite a hit locally.


And, of course I wonder? Are the two advertisement related in some way. The one gets the case and a 40% contingency and the other gets a claim less the contingency at a heck of discount. Don't know, the One Call That's All came after the pitch for the purchase of the lawsuit.

I suppose I should be a bit more naive. But sometimes I think sleaze is an American epidemic.

Entrapment or Outrageous Government Conduct

When one thinks of entrapment he imagines a police officer in drag fishing for Johns. All the officer is doing is making himself available for a crime to be committed. This is acceptable, one supposes.

But, what if the police officer then said to the John. "I will not charge you if you go home and get your father, I mean 'Dickie' or whatever I am supposed to call him, to give you $40,000 to pay to me." Should this be acceptable?

My conscience tells it is not. But, does the law allow this sort of "entrapment" to take place? I hope not.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Police State

Think of it. The government decides you are a danger to it. It wants to get rid of you, destroy you, take away any power you might have had. So, it entices you to commit a crime. Then it prosecutes you for the crime and sends you to jail. Sounds like a police state. Who said it cannot happen here?

Who's Bribing Whom?

The government's case against the defendants is hardly based on moral conduct. It looks as though the government set out to have a judge bribe a litigant before the court. Judge Lackey made himself available for special favors when he signed the "ore tenus" motion to seal the Jones Case file and placed the reopening of the file solely in the hands of Grady Tollison.

One has to wonder. Did the judge set out to bribe Dick Scruggs? Did he set out from the beginning of the Jones Case to make his power available for the highest price?

Seems like the government is forklifting ailing cattle into the food chain.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Judge Biggers

A reading of some of the cases and decisions of Judge Neal B. Biggers, the judge in U.S. v. Scruggs (DCND Miss) would lead a reasonable man to conclude Dick Scruggs and his son Zachary Scruggs and Sidney Backstrom are going to have a hard time on Wednesday and later as the case proceeds, The judge seems unforgiving. He seems to be wanting to convey some sort of message. To whom I do not understand or know. He has something to say, but I do not know what it is.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

US v. Scruggs (DCND Miss) Filings

The motions (and supporting materials)to be heard on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 may be found here. The Government is to have its responsive materials filed by February 19, 2008. The trial is still on for March 31, 2008, at least for the time-being.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Judge Lackey: More Questions

Judge Lackey in the November 30, 2007 Wall Street Journal article about him expresses respect and concern for Tim Balducci including concern for his family. Then it seems, in almost the same breath, he completely turns on his friend and worse than that becomes the main actor in a scheme to bring great ruin to him.

I wonder. If Judge Lackey was Balducci's friend and felt kindly toward him and his family why would he act to ruin him? What might have caused Judge Lackey to act in such a cruel, cold way?

One can only speculate. Could it be that Judge Lackey himself was the focus of a government attention for acts of his own. Could it be that he schemed to cause his friend ruin so as to save himself? A bargain with the Devil?

Things are beginning to look quite dark, sordid.

What's Really Going On Here?

Waht's really going on here? What are these cases involving Mr. Scruggs all about?

They are about the government using a judge to go after a target, Mr. Scruggs. Maybe he should be gone after, in the true scheme of things. But, one has to wonder whether the true scheme of things is being played out here.

It could be these cases are all about one powerful group going after a person who has been successful in challenges to the group's power. It could be we are simply witnessing the great play of history where one warring group wars against another warring group. What we see is the conflict and contest of ambition. We are watching great gladiators do battle.

One would hope in all this temporary survival of the fittest activity that the playing field is a fair one and that it is overseen by referees and judges who are truly unbiased.

So far it seems there is an aura of suspicion about the referees and judges, a taint so to speak. I suppose this is primarily due to the fact that the real effort here came from a judge who was hired to become an agent for one of the sides. But there also seem to be other reasons. Judge Acker seems a bit too involved personally in the great drama.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Judge Henry L. Lackey -- What of His Conduct?

Judge Henry L. Lackey, a member of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, has engaged in conduct some might say is outrageous. He seems to have violated the Mississippi Rules of Judicial Conduct -- see Canons 1, 2 and 3. He has violated the Mississippi Rules of Professional Conduct -- See RPC 8.3 and 8.4. He has taken advantage of a friend who appears to have been in significant manic emotional difficulty. He has ruined his friend's life, rather than helping him. And he has clearly violated long standing constitutional principles which separate the judicial function from the prosecutorial funcion. See Wikiscruggs, Judge Henry L. Lackey.

We cannot have a functioning judicial system based upon the rule of law when the judges of the system fail to do their duty and actually become prosecutorial agents of the executive branch.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Selective Prosecution?

One has to wonder whether there may be some selective prosecution in the Scruggs Matter.
See this from the United State House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Especially see Paul Minor's letter.

Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance

Do not expect much from this proposed effort by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance. (1) The Commission has hardly any staff. (2) All of the Commission’s work will be done in absolute secrecy unless the Commission unanimously votes otherwise. Of the seven members on the commission four are judges and one is a lawyer. (3) No action can be taken against a judge unless two/thirds of the Commissioners agree (that would mean that two of the judicial positions would have to vote for the action). (4) And, perhaps most important, Commission Rules prohibit earwigging (see Rule 5 H) during the proceedings. See Wikiscruggs.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Division of the Spoils and On-going Efforts

The Scruggs Matter includes, in one way or another, disputes between lawyers who at one time were all part of a single effort. Once they were joined together to pursue a case with enormous financial implications. Then the effort came to an end. Since it was successful the disputes have to do with the division of the spoils. (If they had not been successful, the disputes would have been the division of the liabilities.)

The troubles of the day seem to involve nothing but the mundane sort of disputes partnerships and marriages go through when goals are achieved and a party decides it is time to move on.

In this matter, the disputes are how the fees generated by this or that mass tort effort are to be divided. Invariably, an attorney, or a group of attorneys, says the compensation has not been enough and the other attorney says the compensation sought is unjustified or too much.

The disputes may involve great sums but they certainly are mundane, even banal. The attorneys fees debates are no different in essence than a dispute between a couple of business partners in Billings, Montana intent on gaining as much from the success of their operation as possible. It is always hard, if not impossible, to pick sides in such debates.

This matter is confusing because one of the disputants is pursuing another mass tort case and the people on the other side of that case are trying to do their utmost to prevent him from doing so.

Civil Disobedience and the Alabama Indictment

I have been studying the so-called Alabama Indictment this morning. It can be looked at as a confrontation of sorts between Mr. Scruggs and Judge Acker. The judge rendered an order to turn over certain documents. Mr. Scruggs had them but turned them over to Attorney General Hood. Judge Acker was not at all pleased. The judge wants Mr. Scruggs indicted and if the U.S. Attorney does not do it, Judge Acker acting as his personal Grand Jury will do it. And he did. He appointed a couple of lawyers from the same law firm to prosecute Mr. Scruggs. He says he used Fed. R. Crim. P. 42.

So, there is now this great debate between the judge and Mr. Scruggs. The battle has taken on the aspect of a high stakes game. Mr. Scruggs is subject to criminal contempt. That may mean jail, it certainly means money.

Who is right? Who is wrong? Don't know. But I can see something here. Mr. Scruggs may have had to do what he did, turn the documents over to a law enforcement agency (AG Hood) to protect the interest of the cause he was working on, the cause as he saw it for his clients and for those who may have been injured by the conduct in question, the conduct which might be surmised by looking at the documents.

In Mr. Scruggs' mind he may have done just what he had to do. And for that he may have to pay a price. He may have to submit to the punishments of society for doing what had to be done despite the fact it violated the law. What do we call this? Civil Disobedience. Henry David Thoreau provides the best explanation of Civil Disobedience.

Sometimes lawyers act to do the right thing even when they will be punished by their own bar association for doing so. The case of Doug Schafer, a Washington state attorney who was suspended (the Bar Association wanted disbarment) for disclosing judicial corruption in Pierce County Washington. He was suspended because the information of the corruption came to him as a "client confidence."

Mr. Schafer paid a price to fulfill the dictates of his priniciples.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Using the System?

One has to wonder whether certain forces are using the legal system to get at a person they dislike. One also wonders whether an energetic entreprenuer of action has used the legal system to fulfill objectives of his own. And then, if any of this is true, one must ask: Is there anyone really any fault here?

Judicial Character

Speaking of courts and the First Amendment, Justice William O. Douglas said this:

One who comes to the Court must come to adore, not to protest. That's the new gloss on the 1st Amendment.

William O. Douglas

Justice Douglas is saying personalities in control of courts sometimes seek some sort of expression of personal reverence or awe for them from the person who petitions the court. Every lawyer who goes to court sees this. The person on the bench does not distinguish between himself and institution of the court. He thinks the petitioner is coming to him, not the court.

The good judge is one who merely seeks knowledge and seeks to do justice. The good judge is one who keeps his personality out of the matter. This can be done if the judge understands himself and has reverence for process of law. Such a judge knows the part he is playing.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Reply of the "Prosecutors" to the Scruggs Request for an Evidentiary Hearing

The "Special Prosecutors' Reply" to Scruggs' Request for an Evidentiary Hearing is an example of bad lawyering and worse logic.

First, the Respondents' make a character attack on Scruggs. Bad logic. They say he has shown disrespect "for them" because he did not refer to them as "Special Prosecutors." Of course he did not. To do so would have meant losing the point that they were not as alleged.

Second, they appeal to authority. Bad logic, again. Even worse logic than the first because they refer to their own authority. They say "[w]e accepted appointment after determining probable cause for the charge of criminal contempt was present." Unbeleivable. The point of the right to an evidentiary hearing is, in part, to determine probable cause. In every criminal proceeding a defendant is entitled to a hearing on probable cause. At least that is what I remember.

Third, they say Scruggs did not cite a case for his position calling for an evidentiary hearing. He did.

The so-called "special prosecutors" do not cite a case for their arguments until they get to page 4 of their 4 1/2 page Reply.

The cases they cite, do not support a denial of the "draconian relief" they say Scruggs seek -- that is, that the people who have presumed to be his prosecutors and the judge who selected them are to be truly independent and unbiased.


This afternoon I decided to put my comments, when I have them, on this site.

I want www.wikiscruggs to be as free of comment and bias as I can possibly make it. I have opinions from time to time but certainly not as to the guilt or innocence, or judgment, of any of the characters which show up on the wiki. In fact, I think the characters are in reality playing parts in a great drama.