As reported by the AP earlier today, Zach Scruggs appeal to the 5th was completely denied on all counts.
The judges shut him down on 4 arguments
1. The applicability of the Skilling decision
2. Ineffective counsel argument
Because Scruggs has not shown “that his counsel actively represented conflicting interests, he has not established the constitutional predicate for his claim of ineffective assistance.” Nor has he established that counsel’s actions affected the voluntariness of his plea.
3. Government misconduct
Scruggs argues that his governmental misconduct claim is timely because again he did not learn about the misconduct until the publication of Dawson’s book in December 2009. However, as already noted, the book was never introduced into evidence and does not provide a factual basis for his claim.
4. Actual innocence
Finally, Scruggs argues that the decision in Skilling establishes that he is actually innocent of the charge of misprision of a felony and that he also is innocent of all the charges in the original indictment. “Actual innocence” is not a free-standing ground for relief. Rather, it is a gateway to consideration of claims of constitutional error that otherwise would be barred from review. We need not decide whether Scruggs is actually innocent because we have concluded that Scruggs’s constitutional claims fail on the merits. In other words, we would find no ground for relief on the other side of the gate.
Zach Scruggs denied at the 5th circuit - conviction upheld
Posted August 16, 2012 - 9:08 pm