Friday, December 21, 2007

When Will Scruggs Go to Trial?

The prosecution of Dickie Scruggs and three co-defendants on charges related to alleged bribes paid to a state court judge had been scheduled for trial on January 22, but the defendants have asked for a three- to four-month delay because they claim not to have received all the discovery in the case.  The government filed a brief (available below) rejecting the defense claim that prosecutors have not turned over relevant material, arguing that most of the surveillance materials have been provided, which are the key to the case.  The prosecutors assert, "Although the discovery deadline is still six days away, the government has voluntarily made the bulk of discovery in this case. Evidence seized pursuant to the warranted search of The Scruggs Law Firm is still in the hands of a 'taint' team from another jurisdiction, whose job it is to ensure that prosecutors in the Northern District of Mississippi do not receive any evidence that is privileged or outside the scope of the warrant. The evidence sought pursuant to that search warrant is relatively minor, and will be disclosed to the defense in supplemental discovery, if in fact it exists." [Italics added]  The FBI executed a warrant at the law firm the day the charges were filed, but it appears that the material was not all that important anyway, which raises the question about why the search was even conducted or what prosecutors hoped to find.  It's also a bit puzzling that they can describe the value of documents they have not seen yet because they're still with with "taint team."

While the government does not oppose the defendants' motion, its brief concludes that "the case is straight forward and not sufficiently complex to require a protracted continuance."  While the charges are fairly simple, don't take that to mean it will be an easy case, or a short one.  There will be major battles over the meaning of the recorded and videotaped conversations, and the credibility of the cooperating defendant, Tim Balducci, will be front-and-center from the opening.  With four sets of defense lawyers to deal with, this will not be a simple trial.  The judge is likely to grant the motion, so look for the fireworks to start in the spring, when there is no better time to be in MIssissippi. (ph)

Download us_v_scruggs_government_response_to_defense_motion_for_continuance_dec_20_2007.pdf

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