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Dickie Scruggs moves to vacate sentence in Scruggs II based on Skilling

The one year anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision in Skilling is tomorrow.  There’s a one year statute of limitations for federal habeas actions… so…

Dickie Scruggs has filed a motion to vacate his sentence in Scruggs II (the case involving DeLaughter and WIlson v. Scruggs) citing the Skilling case.

Here’s the motion to vacate. There’s a brief with exhibits, about which more ina bit.


The argument is set forth in a brief filed with the motion.  Dickie Scruggs is arguing that he is actually innocent.  He argues, first, that the call to Judge DeLaughter was worth nothing and therefore not a bribe.  This exact argument was raised by Judge DeLaughter in motions in Scruggs II and there is no reason Scruggs could not have raised it.  There’s not much in the way of an argument in the brief why it wasn’t waived by the guilty plea.   He argues, second, that hiring friend-of-the-judge Ed Peters to secretly contact the judge (and even work through drafting an order intermediating between the judge and Scruggs’s lawyers, all in secret) and paying friend-of-the-judge up to $2.5M was not a bribe because… that’s less clear.  Because the judge didn’t get any of it, I suppose.

The brief starts by quoting the holding in Skilling– “honest-services fraud does not encompass conduct more wide-ranging than the paradigmatic cases of bribes and kickbacks”–and then goes on to refer to a “paradigmatic bribe.”  Whoever wrote it felt necessary to define the word “paradigmatic” (twice).  I’d have been inclined to assume Judge Davidson wouldn’t need that.

There are three hurdles Scruggs will have to clear to get relief– first, that the call to Lott was worthless (a position Judge Davidson has already rejected);  second, that the payments of that size to a good friend working off-the-record with ex parte contact doesn’t count because it didn’t go to the judge.

And then there’s that it is $2.5M.

Here’s the brief.

27 comments to Dickie Scruggs moves to vacate sentence in Scruggs II based on Skilling

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    WOW! All of these people are innocent! I guess it was just all one big mistake.

  • factord_agin

    Please help me here, as a non lawyer I’m trying to wrap my mind around this. Is this what Dickie is arguing?

    1. $2.5 million leaves his bank account to buy a favorable verdict. But that is not a bribe because the judge did not receive the money.

    2. The judge wanted a seat on the federal bench and needed a call from Dickie to Trent to help make that happen. So Dickie does that but it isn’t considered a bribe because it isn’t worth anything of “value”.

    Please God in heaven tell me I’m wrong; otherwise, all of those logic classes I took in gifted were a colossal waste of time.

  • catty

    Money, money, mon eeee……just like ths song goes. It’s what the idle(see imprisoned)rich do: Sit around and think of ways to disprove what they said before, in court, under oath. Kind of makes a mockery of our entire judicial system doesn’t it?

  • Floyd Pink

    That’s a beautiful brief. It’s a shame that so many are blinded by lack of objectivity regarding the Scruggs cases and, resultantly, the masterful work of these defense lawyers is not being recognized by more people who frequent this board.

    It’s a shame they weren’t written in support of Paul Minor, for instance, then they would be recoginzed as works of genius. Or maybe if they were written BY Johnny Jones then they would be recoginized as incredible works of art.

    It will be interesting to see what the Judges think.

  • Anderson

    It’s a shame that so many are blinded by lack of objectivity regarding the Scruggs cases and, resultantly, the masterful work of these defense lawyers is not being recognized by more people who frequent this board.

    Okay, now I really want to know who “Floyd Pink” is. 20 Questions? I’ll start. “#1 – does your name appear anywhere in or on the brief in question?”

  • Alan @ Yallpolitics

    Just to keep things in some semblance of perspective (if that’s even possible, anymore) . . .

    From Dickie’s 1st (not the 2nd) plea hearing.

    JUDGE BIGGERS : So you agree – - are you telling me that.
    you did join the conspiracy, and you did furnish some money to give to Judge Lackey in return for him issuing an order in your favor in this case? Is that what you’re saying? Do you disagree with that?

    DICKIE SCRUGGS : That’ s what I ‘ m saying.

    JUDGE BIGGERS : All right. The Court finds , then, that
    there is a factual basis for this defendant to plead guilty to this charge. Richard Scruggs, do you plead guilty or not
    guilty to Count 1 of this indictment?

    DICKIE SCRUGGS : I plead guilty, Your Honor.

    Maybe my little pea brain can’t get over the fact that he told a judge, under oath, in open court that he reimbursed a payment to a judge in exchange for a favorable order. Maybe Floyd Pink could enlighten us all. Maybe s(he) has access to some law where it says his behavior was OK.

  • NotZachScruggs

    Alan, didn’t Zach say the same thing to Judge Biggers about HIS plea? If so, Judge Biggers must be the most patient man on the face of the planet. Move over, Job!

  • Floyd Pink


    What does what you stated have to do with the quality of the defense work on the recent Zach motion and the Dickie brief that was filed today?

    Let me help you out. Absolutely nothing.

    You did nail a demonstration of the lack of objectivity that I was referring to and that’s worth something, I guess.

  • Mr. Blue

    Mr. Pink:

    Aside from your insisting upon it, why should anyone be “objective” about anything connected to or in support of the shameless corruption and degradation of our civil justice system, the billions it costs taxpayers and consumers every year, and the leading role Mr. Scruggs and his Gulf Coast cronies played in forging this modern era of civil injustice?

    If you and yours want plaudits for arfful motion writing, defend a saint who can’t pay you $800 and hour.

  • factord_agin

    Well Floyd, I guess the only way the brief could be more beautiful is if it was written on a paper napkin.

  • PostHoleDigger

    I guess that the next moves will be Peters and Delaughter asking that their law licenses be reinstated, since no one did anything unethical and/or improper and/or illegal. What we need are some peons to take the fall for the big boys.

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    Well maybe we will finally hear some testimony from Trent Lott about Dickie exercising his first amendment right of free speech in that offhand suggestion of his “friend” Bobby DeLaughter for the federal bench. Given the length of the Wilson case and the fact that Lott knew all the parties very well, the former senator could have some very uncomfortable moments on the witness stand. I wonder if he might even plead the fifth. That would be priceless.

  • Floyd Pink

    Speaking of napkins, Factord, I have missed any discussion about how Judge Sanders testified in Zach’s hearing that he no longer considered the Napkin as evidence implicating Zach in Wilson. Of course, most everyone who has read it in context now realizes that Zach was commenting on the strength of the case. The Napkin Comment was taken out of context and released to the blogosphere to do what it did: Create a strong implication of Zach’s guilt. I wonder how those bloggers feel about being used like that now. I also wonder how Judge Biggers feels about the misrepresentations repeatedly made to him. I guess we will see soon.

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    The strength of the case?!? You are a complete idiot. Zack knew the “fix” was in. DeLaughter was overruling his special master. Do you think that is a common practice? I’ll give you a hint. NO!!!!!!

  • PostHoleDigger

    Hold on YLHL, it IS common practice for Delaughter. I recall that he also did that in the Eaton vs Frisbee case. Oh, wait, you probably meant that it is not common practice for uncorrupted judges…..

  • Floyd Pink

    I wouldn’t say I am a “complete” idiot. I just want to go on the record that I think “complete” is unfair based upon your very limited knowledge of me.

  • meanderline

    Why would one wait twelve months to file a motion to vacate one’s sentence? I’m prone to procrastination, even so I think I’d have gotten this filed ASAP.

  • factord_agin


    You’re right…Joey and Tim did have the “situation well in hand”. Which got them some nice time on the federales’ dime.

    Nice try though.

  • NMC

    meanderline, just a guess:

    On the one hand, there may have been a desire to let Zach’s go through first and, on the other hand, if he didn’t file by tomorrow, the statute of limitations could pass.

    Floyd: I’ve thought off and on since you wrote it about your statement that this was a “beautiful” brief. In the abstract– that is, independent of the acid test (will he win?), I thought it a good brief (on one quick reading). A beautiful brief, though, would have woven the First Amendment issues in earlier to telegraph they were coming; they just were stuck on at the end. A beautiful brief would not have ducked Judge Davidson’s prior order (albiet against DeLaughter) that the phone call from Scruggs to DeLaughter was indeed worth something. A beautiful brief would have addressed the nagging feeling any reader not completely disposed to the defense side that this sort of arrangement really is corrupt, does involve direct old-fashioned bribery-like behavior (the quid pro quo of the call, the third-party beneficiary arrangement– pay the judge’s friend, it all works out for you). (this is going to sound contradictory to the last point, but isn’t), a beautiful brief would have made more forcefully the point that there won’t be any proof that the payments to Peters ever any way were intended by Scruggs or his minions to come to the attention of DeLaughter. Which brings up the final point– one thing I found annoying about the brief was the way it (like those filed for Zach) asserted facts that neither record proof nor likely hearing proof was going to bear out. A beautiful brief is honest about the distinctions between undisputed fact, facts that might go either way, and how those variables effect a final decision.

  • Floyd Pink

    Meanderline, my first thought is that he had nothing to gain, time wise, since he is not disputing the 5 year sentence from Jones. He is going to do that 5 regardless so he had time to see if there are any other developments since Skilling that might be helpful to this Motion.(I haven’t done the math but I think I am right on the time) If he is successful with this motion then he will be getting out sooner but not immediately. Also, maybe the Zach thing NMC said.

    NMC, I think it is well written with the facts the writer has to work with. I did specifically notice the 1st Amendment thing coming out of nowhere at the end. I think it is the best thing coming out so far from either side. I realize that only the Scruggs briefs get strict scrutiny, so to speak, on here and I find it annoying that the government briefs more or less get a pass. I read alot of inane, piling on comments on this site (that doesn’t apply to everyone), and occasionally I am moved to argue the other side. This was one of those occasions.

    I think I have made my point. I am really looking forward to seeing what the Judges think.

  • RazorRedux

    I’m going to guess that Floyd’s use of the word, beautfiful, was an attempted foray into irony. ‘cuz only the former poster who shall remain unnamed (hint: BS) could possibly be that blinded to what appears to be walking around common sense and that other hideous word, facts.

  • Floyd Pink

    Anyone in prison on an Honest Services conviction which, arguably, doesn’t include a bribe or kickback is working to have their conviction vacated or their sentence reduced. Unless a person enjoys prison, they want to leave. The puzzling thing to me about the mob mentality on this site is how personal you all take legal arguments that are in a Scruggs defendant’s favor.

    RR – Your cheap shots do not impress me.

  • Since I cannot remember him ever being discussed here – what are everyone’s thoughts on another state lightning rod – Chokwe Lumumba?

    The reason I ask is that I cannot remember him being discussed here (and I am sure he has but please humor me – this is sort of a science experiment).

  • RazorRedux

    Fact: Dickie Scruggs is an ADMITTED/CONFESSED felon as evidenced by his plea in open court by the law in effect at the time of the plea.

    Fact: He openly ADMITTED/CONFESSED to a Federal judge that he provided money for the express purpose of having a sitting judge make a favorable ruling.

    Fact: Dickie Scruggs may not be guilty of anything illegal due a recent court ruling; but it was most definitely something that the average person using walking around common sense would perceive as WRONG (see SHOULD be ILLEGAL)

    Fact: Dickie Scruggs used what he knew to be an illegal behavior (see Influence Peddling) in an attempt to change the potential outcome of a case to HIS benefit. (see SHOULD be ILLEGAL)

    Fact: The use of the word, beautiful, can be used in irony. Which is how I was giving you the benefit of the doubt in it’s usage.

    Fact: I was not taking a “cheap shot” I was expressing a differing opinion and giving you the benefit of the doubt for use of the word “beautiful”, which IMO was a non-applicable instance of usage of the word.

    Fact: BS would offer similar differing opinions that “common sense” application of the facts as presented would lead most persons of average intelligence to come to a different opinion.

    Fact: I call them like I see them and ask questions if I don’t understand. And I read all 37 pages of the bs being sold as “beautiful” by you and found them to be just that, total bs.

    Fact: Me doth think thou protesteth too much at being called out for your defense of reprehensible excuses framed in the form of a legal brief. On a Napkin or not.

  • rogerwilco

    There’s no such thing as a beautiful brief. I object to those two words being placed beside each other.

  • Tim

    Since when is offering someone a chance at a lifetime appointment to the Federal Bench to rule in their favor not “of value”. He made his ruling when he thought the fix was in didn’t he? Doesn’t have to be $$ offered.

  • Your Lies Have Lies

    Without testimony from Dickie (not going to happen) or from Trent Lott, we may never know what was said, but wouldn’t it be funny if Dickie asked Trent to call Bobby DeLaughter and just ask for his resume, with no intension of forwarding his name to the President. I really think this is how it went down. Dickie loved giving people the shaft anyway and what could DeLaughter do about it? Nothing.

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