Patterson's name missing from motion

John O'Brien Jan. 11, 2008, 3:11pm


OXFORD, Miss. - Some of the defendants in the Richard "Dickie" Scruggs bribery case again have asked for the U.S. government's evidence, while one name was conspicuous by its absence.

Former state Auditor Steven Patterson's name did not appear with his three co-defendants in a motion filed Friday. No explanation is given, and his attorney Ronald Michael did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

"Come now defendants Richard F. Scruggs, David Zachary Scruggs, and Sidney A. Backstrom to reply to the government's Response to defendants' Motion for Discovery," the motion says.

"Defendants will continue to meet and confer with the government regarding the issues raised in their Motion in an effort to resolve them without the Court's involvement."

Federal judge Neal Biggers on Wednesday rejected Scruggs' motion to add Kenneth Coghlan as his attorney. Coghlan previously served as counsel for Patterson until being replaced in mid-December.

Biggers worried that if Patterson or Scruggs were to testify against the other, it would put Coghlan in either the position of cross-examining his former client or using information against Patterson that he learned while Patterson's counsel.

"Before Mr. Coghlan will be approved as attorney of record for Richard F. Scruggs, the court must receive an explanation as to why such action would not be prejudicial to Patterson..." the order says.

Scruggs, son Zach and attorney Sidney Backstrom, all of the Scruggs Law Firm, and Patterson are all scheduled to go on trial Feb. 25. The fifth co-defendant, attorney Timothy Balducci (Patterson's business partner), pleaded guilty and is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

The five are alleged to have conspired to bribe Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey in a $26.5 million dispute over Hurricane Katrina-related attorneys fees.

Langston withdrew as Scruggs' counsel Tuesday -- the same day a federal grand jury heard testimony regarding another of Scruggs' attorneys fees disputes. Langston represented Scruggs in that case, too.

Two weeks ago, the Scruggs defense team, led by San Francisco attorney John Keker, requested the following from prosecutors:

-The Sept. 25 affidavit of FBI agent William Delaney, filed in support for a wiretap of Balducci's phone;

-Copies of the Oct. 24 application for an extension of the tap and the supporting affidavit;

-The application and affidavit for the search warrant presented at the Dec. 10 search of The Langston Law Firm, which is representing Scruggs;

-Any and all 10-day reports from the government to the Court concerning any wire interceptions;

-Any and all audio or video recordings of conversations between Balducci and Lackey that have not been produced;

-All audio or video recordings of conversations between and among the defendants that have not been produced;

-Replacement copies of audio recordings that are not decipherable, including a Nov. 1 recording made by Balducci and recordings from Patterson's telephone;

-Replacement copies of audio recordings that are not useable, including conversations between Balducci and Lackey. The motion says the recordings provided by the government do not reflect both sides of these conversations;

-Complete copies of audio recordings that either start in the middle of a conversation, have material missing or end abruptly.

-Replacement copies of video recordings that are not useable;

-Transcripts of all audio recordings. The motion says no transcripts have been provided;

-Access to each recording's original copy;

-Any evidence obtained from the Nov. 27 raid on the Scruggs Law Firm; and

-All relevant phone records obtained by the government.

"At present... there remain a number of specific discovery items requested by defendants that the government has not yet produced," the motion filed Friday says.

It was delivered to Patterson's defense team, according to the accompanying certificate of service.

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