Thursday, April 24, 2008

Robert Coughlin: Where's the Commentary?

Robert Coughlin has pled guilty. Justice Department, friend of Jack Abramoff. Involved in keeping the Abramoff prosecution in some check. Involved with Paul Minor prosecution. Where is the commentary?

Corruption Everywhere

In a recent interview published in the Jackson Free Press, Bill Minor, the father of Paul Minor said this:

It is clear from recent events that the U.S. Department of Justice was
corrupt. Just yesterday, the former deputy director of the Public Integrity
Section of the Department of Justice, Robert Coughlin who prosecuted Paul, was
accused of taking bribes to go easy on an investigation of the notorious Jack
Abramoff, the prominent Republican lobbyist who is now in jail for paying off
several members of the US Congress.

Yesterday, Mr. Coughlin, pleaded guilty. See this story Guilty Plea in Abramoff-Linked Case
Former Justice Department Official Admits Conflict of Interest in Lobbyist Case
. For some reason I think the quick plea to "conflict of interest" probably will hide a whole host of wrongdoing. Wrongdoing reaching well into Mississippi and elsewhere. Let's see, what were the law firms Jack Abramoff was associated with. And, let us see, how did Abramoff move money -- through the accounts of what firm(s)?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monsters and Motivations: The Saga Begins to Unfold in Greater Depth

Some of Judge Henry Lackey's testimony or abridgements or paraphrases of the testimony can be found at Folo (I did not know the kind of monster we were dealing with . . .). Here is an interesting chunk. Cal Mayo is doing the questioning (but not very well it should be added, but maybe not all the questions and answers were reported), he is the attorney for Dick Scruggs.
Q: In May, Balducci had made no quid pro quo?

[A.] He was lying to me and I was lying to him, was what was happening.

[Q.] Did you have any discussions about recusal with FBI or US Attorneys office about your recusal before you did it?

[A.] Sent letter recusing myself, my decision. Did not feel I was getting anywhere, was frustrated with the situation. I reported it to the FBI agent.

[A.] After talking to the FBI agent and after realizing what a monster we were dealing with and the lives he had probably destroyed and the young lawyers and their families he had destroyed, I got back in it.

[A.] The monster was Dickie Scruggs.

Q. Who told you he had destroyed those lives.

A. I did not realize what a monster we were dealing with fully until now. I realize what he has done to destroy our profession, more than anything in my lifetime. Tim Balducci had told me Scruggs knew.

A. Did not discuss the lives Scruggs had destroyed at that time.

It seems clear Judge Lackey had an agenda of his own in this matter. That it was an agenda which preceded his contact with the US Attorney. Before he went to the "FBI agent" (did that come after he had talked with the US Attorney?) he said, "[d]id not feel I was getting anywhere, was frustrated with the situation."
What was the situation? It was, Lackey said, in "May, Balducci had made no quid pro quo?“He was lying to me and I was lying to him, was what was happening.” That is, Lackey had formed and intent to get something out of Balducci which would give him some power over Balducci. But it was not forth-coming, he was frustrated.

Lackey seems to have had the opinion that Dick Scruggs was a "monster" and had "destroyed lives" and "destroyed" "young lawyers and their families." He was going after him, Dick Scruggs, and he was going to use his friend Balducci to get to him. To get to the monster who had destroyed lives and destroyed young lawyers and their families.

Lackey had an agenda, a purpose, in this. Balducci's contact with him in March gave him a pretext to pursue that purpose and a pretext to destroy his friend Balducci in the process (war is justified by the presumption that the object of war is evil). One cannot be sure from what one knows of the Lackey testimony but it would seem there is more than a hint of the Judge's relish in going after Dick Scruggs -- the words, monster, destroy lives, destroy young lawyers and their families indicate more than objective interest.

"So what," you might say.

Let me explain myself. That Lackey may have had a personal agenda in this, a mission of his own, is certainly of interest regarding the entrapment issue, which as you know is of importance to me. But more interesting and in line with what I said in my last post, Lackey's motivations seem to make for a more interesting story, seem to express more depth about the "set piece" of the Scruggs Matter. There is greater depth to the history.

Just as Dick Scruggs creatively with friends and compatriots pursued the asbestos cases (I had an early part in the defense of some of the non-Scruggs, non-Motley, asbestos cases in Eastern Washington but got out of them and handed them off to one of my partners), just as Dick Scruggs with Attorney General Moore and various attorneys general (AG Christine Gregoire of Washington was one of the major players) pursued big tobacco, just has Dick Scruggs "got his rocks off," pursued his career, pursued success, pursued his desire to advance himself, pursued justice, so Judge Lackey creatively sought an object which would benefit him, satisfy his urging: to wit, the destruction of Dick Scruggs.

I think Lackey saw the destruction of Dick Scruggs as a worthy goal and one which would advance his reputation. Each of Scruggs and Lackey took their energies, their libido, their creativity and pursued objects the control or conquest of which would have payoff or gain to them.

And, just as Dick Scruggs seemed to push to the outside of the envelop doing things others more ethical would not have done, Judge Lackey has seemed to push the outside of the envelop to gain his objective, that is the cajoling of his emotionally manic and morally weak friend, Tim Balducci, into a crime of bribery proposed by the Judge himself which would very rapidly trap Dick Scruggs and bring his downfall.

In the lives of these two players, Dick Scruggs and Henry Lackey, there is much interesting material as to motivation and instinct. This makes the story of the Scruggs Matter much more interesting and indeed, much more instructive to those who might be interested in more than the usual comic book theme of war between good guys and bad guys. The matter is not that simple, nor that inconsequential.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Real Story About the Scruggs Matter

The real story about the Scruggs Matter is hidden from us. We can only speculate. We can, however, keep our speculation in check if we understand history and a bit of human nature.

What the heck am I talking about? The history of what I might refer to or think of as a "set piece of human events" (e.g. the Scruggs Matter) is the history of causes of the actions and causes of reactions. The causes of the actions and reactions have a source in human nature, in the particular the human beings playing out their parts in piece of history -- people who are playing out the events of the "set piece." These are the people who have some sort of part to play of the events which unfold.

The set piece is a sort of representation of the wills of the participants and a representation of will in itself -- it is as if there is some sort of flowering of actions and reactions and more actions and reactions until what is in the making is made and then comes to a rest, at least for the time being.

The part which is hidden from us are the particular "causes" of the actions and reactions. These causes are to be found in human nature. But, the human nature we must speak of is that of the particular human nature of each of the participants, known and unknown, in the course of the actions and reactions. And, it is the will of human nature in and of itself.

Whatever we do about and within this set piece and that which we observe is, in truth speculation, about human nature and the particular human natures of the participants.

We will never know the real truth, the full and real truth of the Scruggs Matter.

One thing for sure, as far as I am concerned is that the matter is far more interesting than it appears. Another thing for sure, the characters in the drama are not as guilty nor as innocent as those of us who comment upon the matter would supposedly cause us to believe.

The Scruggs Matter is life in the raw. It is also life which has a certain beauty to it when one relieves himself from the absurd notion he or she can pass judgment on any person in the play.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Manners and Morals of Gulf Coast Lawyers and Judges

The recent events in Jones v. Scruggs (Katrina Group remainder) are most interesting. Judicial actions have taken place in Jones and other civil cases in the area involving Dick Scruggs which foretell or should foretell all sorts of interesting developments. I sure hope someone with a clever mind and a mind for digging beneath the pleasant surface of things is working on the matter -- with the intent of writing a true history of it or at least using it and speculations about it as the backdrop of a bit of fiction.

One observation -- the entire house of cards (the Katrina / State Farm litigation and the professional success of Dick Scruggs) is falling or has fallen as a result of the bribery entrapment of Dick Scruggs by Judge Henry Lackey, a Mississippi Circuit Court judge. That is to say, the main character in the story will be Judge Lackey.

Judge Lackey seems to be the local hero of the moment. He's riding real high right now and he knows it. His self-satisfaction was well apparent in his testimony the other day in the Jones case before Mississippi Circuit Judge Coleman.

I speculate there is a lot more to the story of Judge Lackey -- a whole lot more. I doubt he was the innocent he says he was in the bribery entrapment. He "professes too much." And much of what he says is simply unbelievable (to a person who has spent the last 38 years in the legal profession many of those years being years trying cases to judges (not to juries)).

The judge would like us to believe he was deeply troubled by his meeting with Tim Balducci in March, 2007. What he would have us believe does not ring true. I wonder whether he jumped on the opportunity presented by the stupidities and emotional weaknesses of his friend to pursue an agenda of his own, as some sort of crime fighter to bring down "the monster." He says he did not realize that Dick Scruggs was a monster until after he got involved. In his testimony the other day he threw that into the mix after catching himself saying he suspected Dick Scruggs was a monster he wanted to get at the time of his first meeting or shortly thereafter, before he went to the US Attorney.

I wonder did he become the agent for the government in the entrapment because the government wanted him to become the agent or did he become a government agent because he wanted to be a government agent for purposes of his own. And, if so, were those purposes really his purposes or was he pursuing the purposes of others, of a group, of some sort of gestalt which had become ascendant in a certain aspect of the legal/judicial community? Judges do not act on their own, they are consummate conformists. What wants to imagine as leadership is most often judicial expression of conformity.

There are a good number of people in Mississippi who would like to believe Judge Lackey is a great guy, a great leader. They, and the judge profess too much. I am suspicious. I wonder whether I am the only one.

Back to what I hope -- that someone with time on his or her hands and some investigatory and writing skills will tell the truth about the situation and will flesh out these strange and unusual characters who have popped up and who are popping up as the days progress in this bit of history of the manners and morals of the Gulf Coast legal/judicial system.