Convicted attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and his son want to prevent their sworn testimony in a Hurricane Katrina lawsuit from becoming public and “undermining the presumption of innocence” if they face criminal charges in the future.
Federal investigators, meanwhile, are looking into at least one other case in which Richard Scruggs and his son have been accused of misconduct. Because of that ongoing investigation, the Scruggses want a federal judge to seal testimony that was taken under oath last week in a civil case involving Hurricane Katrina damages.
They submitted the videotaped testimony last week under questioning from attorneys for State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. and Alabama-based E.A. Renfroe & Co., a firm that assessed storm damages for the Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer, according to court records.
The company attorneys “alleged activity of a criminal nature against both of the Scruggses,” according to a motion filed Friday by an attorney representing Richard and Zach Scruggs.
Richard and Zach Scruggs invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer the questions, the motion said.
“The dissemination of the Scruggses’ deposition testimony may seriously prejudice their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in any future criminal proceedings by unfairly portraying them as asserting a constitutional privilege to conceal misconduct and by undermining the presumption of innocence,” according to the motion.
It’s not clear what the attorneys for State Farm and E.A. Renfroe asked during the deposition. Paul B. Watkins Jr., an Oxford attorney representing Richard and Zach Scruggs, said Monday the court documents “speak for themselves” and declined to discuss the matter.
A State Farm spokesman did not immediately respond to a message. State Farm’s attorneys wanted the deposition to be made public, but agreed to keep the information under wraps until a federal judge decides if it should be sealed, according to court records. The judge did not immediately rule on the matter.