NMC on ruling denying Zach Scruggs’ motion to vacate

Judge Biggers’s memorandum opinion (like Gaul) is divided into three parts: Skilling and actual innocence; ineffective assistance; and the claim of prosecutorial misconduct.

The actual innocence discussion represents the best factual summary of the events bribery scheme in Scruggs I that I’ve seen, with some additional information– that the phone calls Balducci said he’d made (and that Backstrom denied had occurred) are corroborated by phone records, that show Balducci did call the office at those times. Obviously, there’s more to the known facts than Judge Biggers states, but he lays the ones he needs out pretty clearly.

For the ineffective assistance claim, he does a variation on the dog bite defense: He rules Zach didn’t file it on time, there wasn’t a conflict (because any notion that Langston might be a hostile witness arose later), and there was no cause or prejudice from any asserted conflict. Any one of those rulings causes his claim to fail.

NMC
7/3/11