I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Ask and ye shall receive (Judge Davidson denies relief in Scruggs II)

When my kids would ask me for something and I’d say “I’ll think about it,” once in a while they’d forget a basic life lesson and come back to nag me.  I’d give them a look and say, “Do you really want an answer now.”

Pretty much invariably, they decided to wait.

Yesterday, the Scruggs team decided they really wanted an answer now, and today they got one, with a 48 page opinion explaining why Dickie Scruggs is not entitled to relief from his plea in Scruggs II.

As with the opinion on his son’s effort in Scruggs I, the judge has provided an opinion that provides the best available narrative to date of the crime in the particular case.  There’s a lot to it– the bulk is a footnoted narrative of the facts.

The most newsworthy thing is that the judge finds that Langston’s testimony at the hearing explicitly contradicted his plea colloquy and his grand jury testimony.   Lnangston had admitted the he was guilty of bribing DeLaughter by offering a thing of value– consideration of DeLaughter for appointment to the federal bench.  Judge Davidson notes that Langston claimed “I don’t know of a bribe.  I’m not aware of a bribe.  Obviously, I’m aware of the matter of his interest in a federal judgeship, but we didn’t offer him that.”  at 16.  Judge Davidson found that langston’s testimony at the evidentiary hearing conflicts with his plea and grand jury testimony, and is “not credible.”

Judge Davidson notes that the record establishes that DeLaughter “did, indeed, show favoritism to the Petitioner.”  He notes DeLaughter’s credibility problems after lying to the FBI.

Here’s the opinion.

23 comments to Ask and ye shall receive (Judge Davidson denies relief in Scruggs II)

  • Anderson

    Ow. That looks appeal-proof.

    Exercise: cross out all the Peters testimony. Same result?

  • John

    But Langston looked sharp at the hearing in that $3,000 suit.

  • Dragoman

    Scruggs was unkind when he referred to Jack Dunbar as “an old lady.”

    And Langston is despicable. His unwavering mission since his release has been to co-opt everyone he can and bring them aboard his rehabilitation bandwagon.

  • I believe Judge Davidson has now officially declined a seat on that bandwagon.

  • Ben

    This is a dumb thing to think about, but I can’t help myself:

    Where is the shame?

    Where is the shame?

    Where is the shame that should inform Dick Scruggs: “I have shamed my name. I have shamed my daddy’s name. I have shamed my granddaddy’s name. I have shamed my son’s name. I have shamed my name as a Naval officer. I have shamed my name as a Naval Aviator. I have shamed my name as an alumnus of Ole Miss. I have shamed Ole Miss. I am as transparent as a pane of cellophane. When I walk in the sun, I cast no shadow, because I have shamed my very being. I have shamed my wife. I am going to shut up. I will move to some distant, out of the way place when I get out of this slammer … maybe Campione, Italy. I’ll tell no one where I am. I will never speak publicly about my life. I have wasted all the blessings that Providence showered upon me. I have no honor. No honor at all.”

    Or words to that effect….

  • John

    Scruggs has no shame, but you know that. Dick Scruggs, Zach Scruggs, and Joey Langston are thumbing their noses at all of us. Prison time has meant nothing to these guys. DeLaughter and Backstrom took their licks and felt it. The difference? The former group has extraordinary wealth; the latter not so much.

  • Dragoman

    Well said, Ben. Scruggs is a ghost – you can pass your hand through him. His boy, too.

  • Hootie Dasher

    Please, can this sordid affair end. I havbe never posted on the sunject due to being friends with so many involved on all fronts. I hate this on so many levels. I hope the order suggests an appeal would be futile. I just don’t see the 5th Circuit overturning Judge Davidson.

  • BlackBear

    That procedural bar can sure be a bitch for a crawfish.

  • Tim

    You did the crime, now do your time and “hush” as we say in the South.

  • Ben

    Charlie Merkel: “a junkyard dog.” Considering the source and the context, I must say: well done, Charlie. Very well done, indeed.

  • DeltaLawMama

    Delusions of injured grandeur. No shame. Continual protestations of innocence that holds no water. Total lack of form, substance, and to be sure a lack of class.

  • Madison

    If the whole point of this exercise is to get out of prison early, DS may wish to save his time and money. He claimed he could be in a half way house already if the court decided in his favor but without the decision is his favor he will be eligilbe for a half way house in August of next year (Aug. 20 2013). I figure by the time he appeals and the case runs its course he will already be out.

  • factord_agin

    Ben: How can there be shame when one has done nothing wrong?

    Scruggs is amoral and pragmatic, an unfortunate combination for those not named Dickie or Zach. He was essentially a product of the corrupt system in which he worked (or created, but that’s semantics).

    At least this is what I tell myself to justify the complete lack of shame on his part and that of his son. My advice: Quit looking for it. You will never find it.

  • DeltaLawMama

    F_A, for a second there I didn’t see that you were explaining why would not find any shame, and thought you were opining on something else. I was going to ask you what drugs were you on or if you were in the Service of He Who Shall Not Be Named Henceforth (H.W.S.N.B.N.H.)

  • Tim

    One last comment Patterson’s version at the evidentiary hearing was not credible….no trip to Europe for you should be result!!!

  • NotZachScruggs

    Help me remember: Weren’t Mr. and Mrs. Patterson in “the Holy Land” getting something — illumination? edification? validation — according to one of them when all this hit the fan, and didn’t one or both of them have some choice words to describe Mr. Balducci (who appears to have been telling the truth) upon their return? What was it they said they were getting Over There? What was it they said about Mr. Balducci? I can’t recall, exactly, how that went down.

  • [...] Mississippi: Judge dismisses Dickie Scruggs’s motion to vacate bribery conviction [AP; Tom Freeland and more] [...]

  • NMC

    NZS, sometime around and just before Thanksgiving, the Pattersons made a trip to the mid-East. They had returned just in time for Patterson to be arraigned.

    Mrs. Patterson’s choice words for Balducci (partly a reference to his stature) were uttered to a Wall Street Journal reporter at the Scruggs Christmas party in early December, at a point when it had become clear that Balducci was cooperating. I don’t remember the exact words.

  • NMC

    That article was easy to find. It was less than a week after the shit hit the fan, and has more than one quote folks might wish back.

    Oh, and your memory is pretty good, NZS. It was “edification” they were seeking in the Holy Land.

    Here’s what it says about Balducci and the Pattersons:

    As for the man considered Mr. Scruggs’s chief accuser — the considerably less-well known Mr. Balducci — many people in these parts are contemptuous. “He has some sort of complex,” said Deborah Patterson, the wife of Steven Patterson, Mr. Balducci’s business partner, who was also indicted in the case.

    She says she and her husband had just returned from a trip to Israel and knew nothing of the $40,000 in bribes allegedly delivered by Mr. Balducci. People familiar with the investigation say Mr. Balducci began cooperating with prosecutors at some point after offering the judge money.

    “We didn’t know any of this,” she says. “We were in the Holy Land seeking edification and returned home to this mess.” Mr. Patterson declined to comment. Mr. Balducci couldn’t be reached for comment.

  • “He has some sort of complex.”

    Yeah, some residual traces of conscience. That can sometimes affect one’s behavior.

  • NotZachScruggs

    I’m just curious: Did they find that “edification” (thank you NMC) they were seeking in Israel? It seems to me Mr. Balducci provided the State of Mississippi, the United States Justice Department and the whole damn world as we know it a large and reliable quality and quantity of amazing edification. We now know a great deal more about how some lawyers once venerated (and rewarded monetarily) in the halls of courthouses, law schools, statehouses, the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and news media everywhere, exactly plied their craft.

  • NMC

    As to Balducci, I think he acquitted (bad choice of words) himself well once he decided to change sides, but I’m not sure I’d use the word edification. There’s that connotation of moral uplift. He certainly educated many about what was going on.

    As to the Pattersons: Since “edification” implies a process of improvement from where one is to some point of relatively greater enlightenment, and, given all the evidence, there was probably a lot of room for additional edification for the Pattersons, they could have received some while it not being generally noticeable to outsiders.

    If something is a micron tall and its height increases 1000%, there’s been a lot of movement, but it’s still pretty damn small.

    I keep thinking of Mark Twain’s travel writing and wishing his ghost could tag along and give us an account of the Pattersons abroad.

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