Well, it looks like Dickie Scruggs will finally face the music this Friday. By lunchtime, we should know the fate Judge Neal Biggers will impose upon him. Under the plea agreement, Scruggs can get up to 5 years. Backstrom could possibly get 3 years.
Today (Wednesday), we should know the identity of those who have written letters for and against Scruggs and Backstrom. Many will remember that lawyers in the Scruggs camp solicited favorable letters to be sent to Biggers by friends. After some objections, Biggers has ruled that there is a legitimate public interest in those documents, and has agreed to provide access to Tom Freeland of FOLO, Anita Lee of the Sun Herald, and Sandra Knispel of MPB.
Now that Judge Biggers has properly ruled that these letters should be available for “inspection”, it would be a mistake for Judge Biggers or the clerk’s office to not provide full copies to the media. Biggers, put simply, cannot unring the bell. By providing it only to a select few and not making all letters publicly available, Biggers risks even more distortion and having “the press” take letters out of context. He should trust “the people” and allow free access to the letters like virtually everything else in the docket in this case.
Another interesting thing will be to see who wrote a letter. It would be hard for me to believe that the higher ups at Ole Miss, to which Scruggs has donated millions, would not have been coerced to write that letter. If so, it would cast an even deeper shadow on Scruggs influence with the University and bring up new questions as to where the line should be when it comes to taking money from big money donors with questionable legal troubles.
The conventional wisdom is that Dickie Scruggs will be fitted for an orange jumpsuit by Labor Day, which is about 60 days after sentencing. Remember, neither the plea nor the sentence will be subject to appeal. Though, if anyone could craft a crazy appellate procedure or motion for reconsideration, it would be this crowd. If Judge Biggers hands down the full five years, that will be that. My guess has been and continues to be that Dickie Scruggs will get 3.5-4 years hard time with a year of supervised release or house arrest. Based on what the US Attorney said at Dickie’s plea hearing, it’s hard to imagine that other charges will not be pending shortly once the feds unravel the Joey Langston/Ed Peters/Bobby DeLaughter mess completely. Fighting new charges from the jailhouse will be a whole different matter than beboping to the courthouse from his office on the square. He can ask his buddy Paul Minor for advice on that.
Also keep an eye out for who shows up on Friday in the courtroom. One final thing will be to see if Sid Backstrom or Dickie Scruggs speak in open court. My bet is that Backstrom will (and will show remorse) and that Dickie Scruggs will not (and will show no remorse whatsoever).
Things are likely to be fast and furious for the balance of the week. Stay tuned.