Forbes law blog picks up on Z. Scruggs – Seattle defense attorney says Miss. is an “earwhiggocracy”

Zach Scruggs, son of the infamous “King of Torts” Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, is asking a Mississippi trial court to relieve him of his guilty plea for misprison of felony by earwhigging.

Misprison of felony is the crime of failing to report a crime and earwhigging the colorful term for judicial influence peddling for which Mississippi is famous. White color criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Grant in Seattle goes so far as to describe Mississippi as an earwhiggocracy.

Problem for prosecutors in the Zach Scruggs case is that earwhigging isn’t a crime. Nor, argues Scruggs, can earwhigging be brought within the “honest services fraud” statute under which prosecutors have sought to criminalize fraud on the market. The country’s most famous “honest services” felons are former Enron executives Jeffrey Skilling, Kenneth Lay and Andrew Fastow. Those energy moguls were convicted of bribery and corruption for their manipulation of stock prices – Lay’s conviction having been vacated only by virtue of his untimely pre-sentencing death.

Pertinent to Zach Scruggs’ conviction is the recent U.S. Supreme Court Skilling trilogy, which held that the “honest services fraud” count under which Skilling (and others) were convicted, could not be applied to fraud on the market unless money or property were exchanged for favors, i.e., in the absence of a traditional bribe.

Forbes
8/23/10

*The headline was changed to add the word “up.” I Did not want it to seem like we were saying he was being “picked on” by Forbes. — Yallpintern