Justice David A. Chandler, writing in the 5-2 decision, said the trial judge erred because Scruggs’ “wrongful actions did not occur in the ordinary course of SKG business.”
“The record aptly demonstrates that the scope of SKG’s business did not contemplate an attempted bribery of the trial judge. This unauthorized criminal act constituted extraordinary behavior outside the ordinary course of SKG business and amounted to an act of ‘private malice or ill will’ … There was no evidence that Scruggs intended, by this act, to benefit SKG,” Chandler wrote.
Presiding Justice George C. Carlson Jr., in a dissent, said Scruggs was acting on behalf of all the partners in SKG when he concocted the scheme to attempt to bribe Lackey.
Carlson said a favorable ruling from Lackey would have benefited all of the SKG partners, not Scruggs alone.
Scruggs, his lawyer son Zach, their legal associate Sidney Backstrom, disbarred attorney Timothy Balducci and his associate, former state Auditor Steven Patterson, each pleaded guilty to federal charges in the bribery case. Zach Scruggs and Backstrom also have been disbarred.