Government says it has more evidence to use in Scruggs trial

John O'Brien Jan. 29, 2008, 3:31pm


OXFORD, Miss. - As expected, the federal government is planning on introducing evidence it apparently gathered from the guilty plea of attorney Joey Langston in the judicial bribery trial of prominent trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs.

Scruggs is alleged to have attempted a bribe of a state judge in a dispute over Hurricane Katrina-related attorneys fees. Langston represented Scruggs in a similar dispute over asbestos fees and recently pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a state judge in that case.

"Please take notice that the United States will seek to introduce similar acts evidence pursuant to Rule 404(b), Fed. R. Evid., at the trial of the above-captioned case (U.S. v. Scruggs, et al.)," says a notice filed Tuesday by U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee.

"Said evidence will consist of the testimony and documentary evidence provided counsel for the defendants by letter of Jan. 28, 2008."

At a hearing almost two weeks earlier, federal prosecutors indicated their desire to present the evidence under Rule 404(b), which provides for the disclosure and notice of evidence of other crimes, wrong or acts.

Federal prosecutors allege that Langston helped Dickie Scruggs attempt to bribe Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter with an appointment to the federal bench in another of Scruggs' disputes, this one over attorneys fees from asbestos suits.

It is those charges to which Langston pleaded guilty. His plea agreement says he will serve no more than three years in prison.

Langston previously served as counsel for Scruggs' criminal case, too. Scruggs and four others (two of whom have pleaded guilty) are alleged to have offered $40,000 to Lafayette County Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey in exchange for a favorable ruling in a dispute over at least $26.5 million in attorneys fees.

Scruggs, 61, faces up to 75 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. His trial date has been pushed back twice and currently rests at March 30.

One of Scruggs' original co-defendants, Timothy Balducci, formerly worked for The Langston Law Firm. He has pleaded guilty, as has his current business partner Steven Patterson, a former state Auditor.

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