Today, Zach Scruggs’s crack legal team culminated a month of PR maneuvering paving the way to set the message for their first filing to rehabilitate their client’s image . . . and possibly his bar license.
According to sources, Scruggs’s legal team put information about a confidential bar complaint and their plans to file this motion in the hands of Northeast MS Daily Journal’s Patsy Brumfield several days ago.
Brumfield now reports that Zach Scruggs in his filing plans to claim innocence and to blame:
The US Attorney’s Office – who received the Director’s award from AG Eric Holder for the Scruggs prosecution
Judge Henry Lackey – who received numerous awards for his courage in this case
and lawyer Tony Farese (Zach’s lawyer for a few weeks before being released and against whom he has filed a heretofore confidential bar complaint)
Team Scruggs began setting the stage for this comeback about a month ago with press leaks proclaiming the relevance of the Skilling decision which curtailed the applicability of the honest services statute in civil cases, but left honest services violations involving public officials (like Scruggs I) in tact.
From Brumfield’s article
In the new motion, Zach Scruggs’ attorneys – Edward D. Robertson Jr. of Missouri and Christopher T. Robertson of Arizona – write that he pleaded guilty out of fear that he could get a lengthy prison sentence, if a jury convicted him. He’s said that he looked at his pregnant wife, their two young children, his sick mother, his father’s looming imprisonment and the public firestorm around them and decided to cut his losses with a plea.
Having served a 14 month sentence, Zach Scruggs likely knows by now that just about every felon “pleads guilty out of fear that he could get a lengthy prison sentence”. Furthermore, just because someone pleads guilty to a lesser offense doesn’t mean they didn’t commit the offense they were originally charged with.
This case will wind up in front of Judge Neal Biggers who only two years ago heard what Zach’s lawyer (and former MS Attorney General) Mike Moore called a “very remorseful, very contrite and ashamed” client freely admit guilt under oath. Apparently that remorse, shame and contrition is no longer part of the equation.
The most immediate question is will Judge Biggers deny the pending motion on procedural grounds (timeliness or some other technical reason) or have a hearing. I think it’s safe to say that Zach’s legal team can’t think very highly of their chances in front of Biggers based on their last appearance from them and would likely appeal should Biggers deny their motion, for whatever reason. That has been the tried and true pattern of the people involved in the Minor and Scruggs scandals and I doubt they’d pick this fight unless they were willing to push it at least to the appellate level. Should by some miracle Biggers set the plea aside, one would think that the US Attorney’s Office would re-indict Zach Scruggs on the original charges and prepare for a trial.
There’s so much information to get to on this that it can’t all be done at once, so I won’t try. But I do want to make two observations. First, my sense is that at the core of this are emotion and power and revenge. My bet is that the claims will be long on innuendo and conspiracies and short on legal substance. Secondly, speaking on Kings of Tort to thousands of people throughout Mississippi and throughout the country, I’ve long predicted that this was coming. This is the first step of the comeback tour. There will be others. The Rendon Group email debacle which YallPolitics broke and the Wall Street Journal later opined on showed the playbook for how they work the press.
Right now, there are lots of fingers pulling on lots of strings in the PR world on the Scruggs’s behalf and I promise you, more is coming.