Having attended Zach Scruggs hearing a couple of weeks ago, I just haven’t had time to do a “connect the dots” piece on what all of this stuff means to me, until now.
There are several things that have stood out to me so far throughout this proceeding.
1. The fact that Zach Scruggs didn’t testify on his own behalf is . . . well, incredible. This whole thing about him being innocent was his idea and when he gets the chance to testify in front of God, Judge Biggers and the world about how he didn’t know, he chickens out. Shortly after Zach’s team rested without him testifying, Biggers ended the proceeding. He didn’t even let the government present witnesses. I personally think Zach not being willing to testify was about all Biggers needed to see.
2. The fact that Dickie Scruggs did not testify is also telling. Remember that he did not testify under oath without 5th amendment protection in the 2255 hearing on behalf of his son AND that he took a plea deal without his son having been taken care of.
3. Zach Scruggs is spitting in the face of people who cut him a break . . . a BIG break. If you’ll remember back to the indictment, his father (Dickie Scruggs) and his law partner and friend (Sid Backstrom) pleaded guilty after being unable to talk Zach into taking a deal for a one year sentence negotiated by John Keker. Zach, through his lawyer Mike Moore, said they were hell bent on a trial, which I think the US Attorneys were all too happy to give him. Finally (under the headline that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’) the Feds let him plea to a “baby felony” instead of going to trial and facing four other admitted co-conspirators. In essence, the US Attorney’s let Zach plea to the equivalent of driving the getaway car, and now he comes back and says “I didn’t do it” after admitting under oath that he was in fact guilty and waived all rights to an appeal. To boot, the US Attorneys recommended probation (no jail time).
4. As a personal aside, I take particular delight in the fact that Team Scruggs is now holding our book, Kings of Tort, as being the bible when it comes to truthfulness about the saga. In just about every motion they’ve made in Zach’s march to claim that he is innocent, the book is referred to. In their original motion, an entire chapter was photocopied as an attachment. As Tom Freeland has pointed out, they’ve made statements like “Tom Dawson’s book is revelatory” and calling our research “meticulous”. On these points, we agree. For the record, Zach Scruggs (through counsel) declined an interview for KOT that was offered absolutely without condition.
ZNN has now started to proclaim that Zach Scruggs’ effort to set aside his guilty plea may go to the US Supreme Court. That seems to me to be wishful thinking. I read that to mean that Zach’s team believes that Judge Neal Biggers will not find in his favor and are messaging through a very supportive Patsy Brumfield who is the only one paying them any positive attention. It’s my belief they are now playing for other appellate venues.
All of this leads me to this conclusion. My opinion is that Zach Scruggs legal team doesn’t want the legal result they say they’re seeking. Instead, I think they’re just looking for the righteousness of the fight. Bear with me here. From someone who has studied this for three years, I can tell you that PR and their public narrative are indescribably important issues for them. I believe they want a comeback narrative and this legal fight (which has the high likelihood of losing on the merits) gives that to them. My opinion is that Zach will strike out at every level with the legal argument, but will get the karmic benefit of being able to say something like, “the government was out to get me and my lawyer screwed me and I have fought them at every level and even though I lost, I maintain my innocence.” Mind you, there doesn’t seem to be any proof for that narrative whatsoever, but I believe he is setting himself up from a PR perspective to be a martyr of sorts for “overzealous government prosecution” or some similar tune. Time will tell if I’m right on that, but given the circumstances, it’s the only way I can reconcile their behavior.
My bottom line is that I don’t think Biggers will give Zach Scruggs the relief he seeks. Having been in the courtroom and heard the tapes (which are incredibly damning), the fact that he couldn’t speak on his own behalf to counter those tapes speaks volumes to me. Unfortunately, I think we will be stuck with this effort for a while. He has a flotilla of high paid lawyers that I think will press this until they exhaust every bit of legal maneuvering and garner whatever press out of it that they can.