Scruggs judge: Fair jury possible

The trial site, Oxford, may be one of the few certainties for mega-litigator Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, his attorney-son Zach and their legal associate Sidney Backstrom – if they are tried as originally scheduled by Senior U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr.

Biggers said no Thursday to a defense motion to move the trial out of Mississippi because of what attorneys described as excessive publicity, which could prevent the court from securing enough jurors to be fair to their clients. The trial is set to start March 31.

The Scruggses and Backstrom are accused of conspiring to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City. They maintain they are innocent.

“There has been no testimony from anyone that these defendants cannot get a fair trial” in Oxford, Biggers said toward the end of a day-long hearing on three pretrial motions.

At issue was what defense attorneys described as excessive publicity about the case in Mississippi. They wanted Biggers to move the trial out of the state. New Orleans was specifically suggested Thursday.

“This trial will be sensational,” predicted Jackson attorney Frank Trapp, representing Backstrom. “You’ve already said you’ll put Sen. (Trent) Lott on the stand. That will leave Mr. Backstrom over here accumulating all kinds of prejudice.”

NE MS Daily Journal
2/22/8