Mike Moore stated on MPB radio that he and Todd Graves, Zach Scruggs’ attorneys, “had no expectation that the judge would sentence him to jail today. None.”
From the plea hearing, it seemed pretty obvious that it was being stated that the Judge could alter from the Government’s recommendation on probation and maybe even emphasized that maybe that could be likely.
At Dickie Scruggs’ sentencing hearing, it was becoming apparent that Judge Biggers was taking this whole matter very serious where Zach Scruggs’ involvement was concerned, stating during the hearing:
And the Court finds that Zach Scruggs was a participant. He looked at the order, proposed order, made comments on it before it was to be submitted to Judge Lackey; and he was there when this scheme first started. Some people have called that first meeting a scheme to earwig. Some have called it the first part of the conspiracy.
But whatever it was, when the defendant and these others , Zach Scruggs and Mr. Backstrom and Mr. Patterson and Mr. Balducci, got together for the purpose of sending Balducci over to talk to Judge Lackey, in this Court’ s mind, that was the starting of the scheme to corrupt the integrity of the Lafayette County Circuit Court.
Whether money was talked about or whether it was a job that was talked about, a monthly stipend to have your name on the letterhead was talked about, they were sending somebody who was not a lawyer in the case over to see a judge to try to persuade him to rule in favor of Mr. Scruggs for whatever reason. And the Court finds that there were five or more people and that was the attempt – – the start of the scheme to corrupt.
Then Trailer Lawyer Graves and honorary Trailer Lawyer Moore state in Zach Scruggs’ sentencing memorandum that if the Judge is inclined not to follow the Government’s recommendation for probation that they want some face time:
[I]n the event that the Court, after having reviewed the facts, circumstances, and arguments surrounding this plea and the Government’s recommendation, is not inclined to accept the recommendation, Zach Scruggs asks for the opportunity to discuss the matter in a pre-sentencing conference with the Court and the Government.
Something seems a little off if Mr. Moore has been counseling and working Mr. Scruggs over the last year but appears to see one thing from the Court that everyone else seems to have seen coming and yet states that he thought something else. Maybe he was telling Zach Scruggs that all he was going to get was probation when the writing was plastered all over the wall that there was more to this than Mr. Moore is obviously willing to admit to. It appears that Mr. Moore never received the message from Judge Biggers that the Judge was readily aware of the additional participation of Zach Scruggs that Mr. Moore was so ineffectively trying to make seem didn’t occur:
THE COURT : The evidence in this case shows that you were fully aware
of this corruption – – attempted corruption of Judge Lackey.
You took that order that Balducci brought up to your law office
that – – the corrupt order that was attempted to be bought from
Judge Lackey. And you made comments on it. You said where
commas should be and what things should be said about it, what
the order should say.
And based on some of those tapes that you – – that were
played at the request of your attorney – – or your father’ s
attorney, Mr. Keker, and which I heard because they were
produced, I just – – it was just clear that you not only knew
what was going on, you were participating in what was going on.
You helped write that order.
You shake your head, Mr. Moore; but I heard the tapes. He
wrote – – he suggested what should be in that order, that
corrupted order. Have you heard that?
MR . MOORE : Judge, I ‘ve listened to every tape,
interviewed every witness.
THE COURT : Well, then, you’ve heard that if you’ve
listened to every tape.
MR . MOORE : I did Judge – –
THE COURT : He commented on it.
MR . MOORE : – – and I hope I get a chance to respond.
THE COURT : Well, you’ve had your chance to respond.
Well, you can respond to that; you can respond to that. Go
MR . MOORE : Thank you, Your Honor. Zach Scruggs
never had any knowledge whatsoever that there was any
conspiracy to bribe a judge in this case. Zach Scruggs, on
March 28th, was at a meeting about a – –
THE COURT : He’ s not being sentenced for conspiracy
to bribe a judge.
MR . MOORE : I understand, Judge.
THE COURT : He’ s being sentenced for misprision of a
felony. But the underlying offense is the corruption of Judge
Lackey. He knew that Judge Lackey was being corrupted, and he
had an order there that he was looking at that was part of – –
that was an order that was being bought from Judge Lackey – – or
being taken – – persuaded – – at the very least, that he – –
you’re saying he knew – – that I know he knew – – was that this
order was the result of a corruption or attempted corruption of
MR . MOORE : Right. Your Honor, I – –
THE COURT : And whether it was for money or whatever
else is really immaterial; it was a corrupt order.
MR . MOORE : The only difference – – and I don’ t want
to offend the Court. But the only difference is, is that the
only thing Zach knew was that Tim Balducci went to have a
conversation with Judge Lackey. He never knew that anybody
conspired to bribe a judge or to do something untoward.
The tape that you’re talking about is a tape that occurred
after Tim Balducci came to the Scruggs Law Firm on November the
1st, wired up, wearing a wire, walked up the stairs, saying he
was there to meet with two individuals, Sid Backstrom and Dick
Zach Scruggs, all the evidence would show, happened to
walk in the room that day. He was never a part of that. And
that’ s the only evidence the Government ever had in this case.
And that may be a distinction without a difference in Your
Honor’ s mind, but it’ s a distinction in Zach’ s mind.
THE COURT : Well, that’ s something you can argue.
Whether or not that’ s true remains open. He hasn’ t pled guilty
to being part of the bribery. And he’ s not being sentenced for
part of the bribery.
You know, when Mr. Backstrom – – who’ s admitted he was part
of the bribe – – and your client are as close as they were,
they’re up there in that office every day talking about
their – – the legal projects of the firm – – and it’ s hard to – –
it’ s kind of a stretch of credulity to believe that Backstrom
never mentioned that money was being sent down to Judge Lackey.
You can claim that; you can argue that. And as far as the law
is concerned, I ‘ m going to base the sentence on that. But
whether or not I believe that is something else.
MR . MOORE : One thing I ‘ d say, Judge, is – – and I
know you’ve listened to some of the tapes, but I ‘ve listened to
all of them. And if the Government has a different view, they
can say it. With all of the conversations, hundreds of
conversations, that were wiretapped and taped, there’ s no
mention of Zach Scruggs in this case anywhere. He just – –
THE COURT : I understand all of that. That’ s not
part of this hearing.
What do you say, Mr. Dawson?
MR . DAWSON : I ‘ d have to disagree with that
statement. Mr. Scruggs – – Zach Scruggs is mentioned on some of
THE COURT : That was my recollection also. And
another thing that impressed me negatively about this, frankly,
is that when you, Mr. Scruggs, and Mr. Backstrom were talking
with Mr. Balducci over this order that he had brought to you
before it had been entered by Judge Lackey, it was an order
that you were commenting on how it should read and what it
should say – – and you’ve told me that you have a great respect
and love for the legal field, for the legal profession. And
I ‘ m – – I ‘ m not questioning that.
But you certainly had no great respect for the Circuit
Court of Lafayette County or Judge Lackey, because the tapes
show that you told Mr. Balducci and Mr. Backstrom that we need
to hurry up and get this order signed before some other asshole
gets the case. Now, that’ s a total thumb in your nose at the
Lafayette County Circuit Court. And it contradicts your
statement to the Court that you have a great love and respect
for the legal profession.
Based on these considerations, and based on the sentencing
guidelines that have been furnished the Court, you have no
criminal history. I ‘ m taking into consideration the
Government’ s plea bargain with you. Of course, I told you when
the plea bargain was entered into it was not a binding plea
If, really, the Government and defendants were serious on
something that would bind the Court to a specific sentence, it
would have been an 11( c ) ( 1 ) ( C ) plea agreement like
Mr. Backstrom had which bound the Court.
MR . MOORE : Your Honor, we were informed by the
Government on that matter – – we asked for a binding plea and
the Government – –
THE COURT : You didn’ t get it. You were here when he
entered a plea of guilty. It was not an 11( c ) ( 1 ) ( C ) ; I told
you it was not binding.
MR . MOORE : Judge, we know that. I just – –
THE COURT : Well, all right. Then, if I want you to
say anymore, Mr. Moore, I ‘ll ask for it.