Criminal Justice

Judge grants disbarred lawyer Scruggs' request to return to prison

Disbarred Mississippi lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs is, at his own request, returning to federal prison after losing his latest appeal in a judicial corruption case.

Scruggs has been free on $2 million bond since late last year. He asked to resume serving his seven-year sentence after losing an appeal before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the Jackson Clarion Ledger. U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson agreed to the request in an order signed on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Scruggs was sentenced after pleading guilty to honest-services fraud in 2009 for improperly trying to influence Judge Bobby DeLaughter. Scruggs appealed after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the scope of the honest-services law in a 2010 ruling, saying it applied only to bribes and kickbacks.

Scruggs was accused of telling DeLaughter he would recommend him for a spot on the federal bench to his brother-in-law, a U.S. senator. DeLaughter was presiding over a case involving Scruggs and a dispute over Hurricane Katrina legal fees.

In its ruling last Friday, the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit said Scruggs was still guilty under the narrowed law, Courthouse News Service reports.

“A bribe that takes the form of a promise to assist later—here, with a future district court vacancy—is still a bribe,” the 5th Circuit said in its opinion (PDF)

Scruggs’ lawyer has indicated he may seek a rehearing or he may seek cert with the U.S. Supreme Court.

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