Documents: Scruggs to take 5th in Hood suit

State Farm sued Hood in September, accusing him of using the criminal investigation to coerce the company to settle lawsuits with private attorneys.

The insurer also claims Hood violated his part of a January 2007 settlement in which the Mississippi attorney general?s office agreed to end the criminal investigation of the Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm.

A judge last year ordered Hood to temporarily halt his criminal investigation. Scruggs? deposition is just the latest in the legal wrangling that has followed.

State Farm said in a motion filed Wednesday that the fact that Hood wants to stop the deposition ?is very telling indeed.?

?General Hood is clearly concerned that his co-conspirator will either tell the truth or invoke the Fifth Amendment on specific questions related to their extortion conspiracy,? the motion said.

Hood spokeswoman Jan Schaefer told The Associated Press that ?we have not filed any motions to stop testimony in this case.?

But one of Hood?s attorneys, J. Lawson Hester, wrote in a letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker: ?I am in no way attempting to be obstructionist as regards the taking of Mr. Scruggs? deposition, but the realistic eventuality that this deposition will not yield a benefit to either party is now known clearly to both sides and I would like to avoid as much unnecessary expense and burden to my client as is possible, consistent with the rights of the respective parties.?

The letter from Hester is in court records.

Clarion Ledger
1/31/8