Judge: Scruggs’ lawyers entitled to evidence

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, December 12, 2007

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Defense attorneys are entitled to copies of recorded conversations that allegedly implicate powerful plaintiffs attorney Richard ‘‘Dickie’’ Scruggs in a judicial bribery scheme, a federal judge in Mississippi ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers’ ruling allows for a ‘‘limited unsealing’’ of search warrant applications and affidavits for wiretaps. Biggers said prosecutors also can give defense attorneys a disc containing some of the ‘‘intercepted communications’’ in the case.

Last month, a grand jury in Oxford, Miss., indicted Scruggs, his son and law partner Zach, and three others on charges they conspired to pay a state court judge $50,000 for a favorable ruling in a dispute with other lawyers over $26.5 million in fees.

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The indictments quote from conversations between Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey and attorney Timothy Balducci, who allegedly paid Lackey the bribe money on behalf of Richard Scruggs.

Investigators also apparently taped several conversations between Balducci and other defendants in the case. Balducci already has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the investigation.