In his ruling made public Thursday, Acker also criticizes Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s involvement in the case, referring to Hood as a “so called law enforcement official.”
Earlier this year, Acker had ruled that Scruggs willfully defied a court order to return the leaked files. Scruggs argued the December order stipulated documents could be handed over to any law enforcement official and gave them to Hood.
State Farm maintained Hood used the information to pressure the company to settle civil lawsuits. State Farm sued Hood in federal court in Mississippi. In February, State Farm’s dispute with Hood over his criminal probe of the insurer’s hurricane claims-handling was settled.
Acker says Scruggs simply found a loophole in his order and exploited it.
Acker in his opinion refers to Hood as a “confederate, confidant and friend” of Scruggs.
“This court now finds by a preponderance of evidence that, in context, General Hood was not a bona fide ‘law enforcement official,’ but rather was a co-conspirator with, and an aider and abetter of Scruggs,” Acker’s opinion said.
Hood says he intends to file a motion requesting Acker revise the ruling because of its “derogatory conclusion.” “The rules of judicial performance do not allow a court to engage in unnecessary attacks on officers of the court, particularly when they are not even parties to the litigation. This Judge interfered with a grand jury investigation and we believe that either he, an appellate court, or the Alabama Commission on Judicial Performance will remedy this situation.”