Today, Judge Neal Biggers did what he hinted strongly at during the sentencing of Dickie Scruggs . . . he sentenced Zach Scruggs to a jail term of 14 months. So today, we now reflect after the first three sentencings in the beginning of the largest legal/political scandal in Mississippi since Operation Pretense and make our selections in “Scruggs excellence”.
Father of the Year – Dickie Scruggs
This was really a no brainer for the Selection Committee. Anyone who would (1) leave his son to potentially stand trial in which he would most assuredly have been found guilty after saving his own ass with a plea deal and (2) continue to not cooperate even now that it means that his son (who, though clearly and admittedly guilty, is probably the least culpable of the five indicted) will spend over a year in federal prison is someone who clearly merits this coveted award.
Worst Criminal Lawyer – Former MS AG Mike Moore
The Selection Committee had a few options to choose from here, but Mike “the Consigliere” Moore’s courtroom performance today clinched the deal. He is clearly head and shoulders the worst criminal lawyer in the Scruggs saga.
With doozies like . . .
“Zach is innocent of the charges pressed against him, and we look forward to his exoneration.”
This was uttered, of course, days before Zach Scruggs pleaded guilty to a felony.
And who can forget this classic?
“Judge Lackey either is very confused or he made up the story out of whole cloth,” Moore said.
Best Criminal Lawyer – Frank Trapp
Frank Trapp of Phelps Dunbar in Jackson was clearly the best lawyer of the bunch so far. As a lawyer, he was dealt a crappy hand. His client was guilty. They had him on tape. Plus, he was lashed together in a defense with Dickie Scruggs. Trapp represented his client with class. There was no hot air. There were no fancy lawyer tricks. He negotiated a good deal under the circumstances and had a capped plea deal. He counselled his client to be contrite and to cooperate, and Backstrom should be grateful for the representation he received.
Best Fixer – P.L. Blake
One might think Balducci would reign supreme here, but not so. Timothy Balducci got caught on tape and folded like a shot duck. That does not reflect Scruggs excellence in the least. P.L. Blake apparently has something so nasty on Dickie Scruggs that Scruggs is willing to rot in jail indefinitely and let his son rot there for over a year. Former MS Auditor Steve Patterson has implicated that P.L. Blake was the fixer in Dickie’s inner circle that handled communications for him on sensitive matters.
Best ‘So-Called’ Law Enforcement Officer – AG Jim Hood
You have your best Law Enforcement Officers and then you have your best ‘So-Called’ Law Enforcement Officer. AG Jim “We are family” Hood takes this coveted Scruggsie.
Most Effective in Pissing Off Neal Biggers – Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat
Again, Mike Moore made an outstanding run at picking up his second Scruggsie in this category, but Robert Khayat stood out head and shoulders in Judge Biggers courtroom. By clearly blasting Khayat’s sappy letter on Ole Miss letterhead noting that the Scruggs had been punished enough and what a waste of taxpayers money it would be to have them serve in prison, Biggers promptly cited Chancellor Khayat’s sage advice and have now forced Dickie, Zach and Sid to each pay for their own incarcerations. Thanks Chancellor Khayat! Thanks a yahoo.
Most Enraged Judge – Judge William Acker
Though Neal Biggers had his moments and imposed some pretty stiff sentences, Judge William Acker of Renfroe v. Rigsby fame is clearly the Most Enraged Judge in the Scruggs saga. Acker got so mad at Scruggs, he referred him for criminal contempt to US Attorney Alice Martin, who Jim Hood approached to protect Scruggs as a “confidential informant”. Then, when she refused to prosecute, Acker selected a three judge panel that indicted Scruggs, but a judge in Florida dismissed the claims on technical grounds. THEN, Acker comes back over the top and finds that Scruggs and the Rigsby gals are in civil contempt and fines them a collective $65K and calls AG Jim Hood a co-conspirator. That’s mad for ya, and that wins the Scruggsie.
Most Scared Felon – Steve Patterson
Timothy Balducci and Joey Langston rolled on everyone like a tractor tire early in the game. Patterson was later to the “snitch” ballgame. After what Judge Biggers did to Dickie, Zach and Sid, Steve Patterson is likely peeing in his pants ’bout now. If he doesn’t have much to say to federal prosectors, he might even be willing to invent some stuff.
Best Karma – Johnny Jones
How would you like it if someone screwed you out of $2-3 million only to have that person wind up in jail and in the midst of a rash of criminal and civil actions? Karma’s a bitch. Johnny Jones definitely shows Karmic excellence and earns his first Scruggsie.
Best Paid – John Keker
In a scandal replete with money and greed, John Keker earned his money the old fashioned way . . . he demanded it . . . up front. The lawyer that was too expensive for Barry Bonds has unquestionably billed some superfat California legal rates in his team’s defense of Scruggs. Kudos to Mr. Keker. We give you a special $crugg$ie $alute.
To all the winners of the Scruggsies, we salute you. Unfortunately, this is our first “annual” Scruggsie award ceremony because I strongly believe we will be dealing with this mess this time next year.