The 5th Circuit today ruled in Dickie Scruggs appeal and affirmed the lower court’s ruling that his guilty plea is still valid and that he in fact participated in a scheme to bribe Judge Bobby DeLaughter.
The outcome was not at all a surprise. However, a reading of the opinion shows that it is a pretty forceful ruling. Holding it up against the oral arguments, the justices systematically ran through Dickie Scruggs’s arguments and shut him down at every turn. There’s really nothing for the Scruggs camp to hang their hat on. The appeal also made reference to similarly situated appeals from Zach Scruggs and Paul Whitfield. It appears that the Scruggs and Minor universes are tripping over each other in the appelate realm and there don’t seem to be much sympanthy for their arguments individually or collectively. Like pretty much every judge in the chain of the criminal proceedings with this crowd, they appear tired of the antics and seem to be telling these folks to shut up, do your time and get on with your life.
So, now it’s time to call my shot. First, Dickie will get the same fawning, slanted press he has been getting that will continue to minimize what he admitted to doing. I have no doubt that Dickie Scruggs will appeal. Whether he asks for an en banc hearing at the 5th (which I don’t think he will get anywhere with based on how methodical this ruling is) or whether he appeals to the US Supreme Court (which I’m confident won’t hear it), the only real question now is when he goes back to jail. Dickie Scruggs is out on bond pending an appeal, which has now been forcefully decided. Scruggs’s lawyers may make motions back in Aberdeen, but it’s my gut sense that he will be fighting from here on in back in a prison cell in Montgomery.
Here’s a copy of the decision.