Due process of law butts heads with free press in Scruggs case

Keker asserts that while the Scruggs story is newsworthy nationally, only in Mississippi is Scruggs front-page news every day. Only in Mississippi was Dickie Scruggs’ Christmas party news; only in Mississippi were Scruggs-former-defense-lawyer-turned-government-witness Joey Langston’s attempts to sell his condo in Telluride newsworthy.

Keker’s motion cited over 100 articles and blogs to assert that Mississippians have already made judgments of Scruggs’ guilt, citing blogs wherein commenters referred to Scruggs as “scum”.

In a particularly poignant moment of the hearing on the motion for change of venue, Judge Biggers asked the Keker legal team if not one of the Mississippi articles reviewed by them in preparation of their motion for a change of venue was favorable to the possibility that Scruggs may be innocent.

Keker invoked the sympathy of onlookers when he related in front of his client, Scruggs, that the answer was “No”; that at best, defense investigators found some sentiment of “I hope it’s not true”; and that the majority of articles reflected the tone of embarrassed Mississippians, “glad he is getting his comeuppance.”

Keker asserted that lack of favorable Mississippi press was not evidence of guilt, but rather of human nature, that when a man is charged with something serious, friends, admirers, and take a “wait-and-see” step back.

Judge Biggers himself brought up Mississippi author John Grisham’s comments that he didn’t “believe it” (the allegations of judicial bribery) when Grisham heard the announcement of Scruggs’ indictment. Keker countered that the Grisham interview was in the New York Times.

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