Roger Parloff at Fortune Legal Pad is out with some informative analysis based on an interview with attorney John Griffin Jones, who filed the fee suit against Scruggs. Among the questions explored: how high were the stakes in that suit, and why might the defendants have been keen on an arbitration order? Relating to the latter point, Parloff writes:
Scruggs’s lead counsel, John Keker of Keker & Van Nest, adds that the notion that Scruggs might have wanted to keep the case out of public view by putting it into arbitration is “absurd as a motive” for a bribe, since the case “was certainly going into arbitration” and that was “the only place it could possibly be.”
Which raises the question: if an order for arbitration was a foregone conclusion, why are Scruggs chums floating the theory that attorney Timothy Balducci thought he could impress Scruggs by getting such an order from Judge Lackey?
The WSJ law blog reports that Balducci was arraigned Tuesday and has asked to withdraw his law license. On the location of his arraignment, see Mississippi blogger Folo (earlier). (Update: Whoops, actually Mississippi expatriate, see comments.) Balducci was named to represent himself, drawing many puzzled reactions. (Update: NE Mississippi Daily Journal has more on Balducci’s arraignment and likely cooperation, via Folo.) Also, the WSJ law blog interviews David Rossmiller (who himself has several new posts up) and reports that the Scruggs firm may be withdrawing from Scruggs Katrina Group cases after all. (Update: confirmed in this Sun-Herald story).
This Sunday profile of Judge Lackey in the Sun-Herald notes that he’s “a deacon at First Baptist Church and a member of a state commission charged with ensuring judicial integrity,” which as several commentators note might indicate that he was a risky one to approach with a proposal for corruption.
A commenter at David Rossmiller notes whose interests are served by the pre-emptive “character assassination of Balducci” in recent coverage and also writes:
Patterson resigned Oct. 18, 1996 after pleading guilty to filing false documents to avoid paying taxes on a Range Rover. And Grisham thinks these folks are super sophisticated, why?…
And how bad does the spin from last week look? The FBI did not find “the document” and Scruggs is not withdrawing from Katrina cases, and then a few days later he is withdrawing. By the way, the FBI removed computer data which is most likely being analyzed right now, so who the heck knows what they have found. Maybe “dead bodies”? …