Yesterday, amidst the turmoil of the Jones v. Scruggs hearing, it came out from Judge Henry Lackey’s testimony that former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore was wittingly or unwittingly used by Dickie Scruggs to pressure current Mississippi AG Jim Hood to do his bidding with regards to the State Farm criminal grand jury prosecution.
So here’s what is out in the public record. We know from the Lee Harrell deposition that Mike Moore was consulting with Jim Hood on the Grand Jury proceedings while representing the McIntoshes against State Farm. It was clearly inferred that Moore represented Hood’s interest in dealings with State Farm as “the heavy”. We know from Timothy Balducci’s testimony (Page 2) that Balducci and former Mississippi Auditor Steve Patterson were paid $500K to pressure Hood to stop the criminal prosection of State Farm. We also know that Hood was questioned directly about this meeting in the SF v. Hood hearing in Natchez.
Q. My real question is: Did Mr. Patterson or Mr. Balducci have dinner with you and tell you that if you did not participate or assist Mr. Scruggs in settling that mass tort action which was going to generate a 20-million-dollar-plus fee, that he would fund an alternative candidate to run against you for attorney general?
A. If you’re asking me did somebody come to me and threaten me, the answer is no. Now, out of all candor in this, I don’t want to mislead you. I remember having dinner on one occasion with Mr. Balducci and Mr. Patterson, but that conversation was about they were leaving the firm that they were presently — that Mr. Balducci was presently with. They didn’t convey any threats to me about settling the case or anything like that.
Q. They never suggested that if you didn’t participate in dropping your criminal investigation that Dickie Scruggs would fund an alternate candidate and Mike Moore would support that?
A. No, sir. Absolutely not.
The judge said he couldn’t take the problem to the state attorney general’s office because he had heard that Dickie Scruggs used Moore, former state Auditor Steven Patterson and former New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci to threaten Attorney General Jim Hood to settle State Farm Katrina-related insurance cases to allow the Scruggs Katrina Group to collect its legal fees.
Otherwise, he said, Scruggs would find a candidate to run against Hood for re-election “just like they would for commissioner of Insurance.”
Lackey said he heard that from assistant District Attorney Lon Stallings.
Moore protested immediately running into the hall to get on the record. I guess he thought the best defense was a good offense because he basically called a sitting Circuit Court Judge either demented or a liar. From the same article . . .
“Judge Lackey either is very confused or he made up the story out of whole cloth,” Moore said.
It would seem this puts Hood and Moore squarely on the other side of whatever the truth is from Lackey and Balducci.
However, Moore may protest too much, and his credibility is pretty much shot when it comes to matters involving Scruggs. Remember recently that Mike “Tom Hagen” Moore was retained to criminally defend Zach Scruggs. In an interview with Patsy Brumfield, he said . . .
“Zach is innocent of the charges pressed against him, and we look forward to his exoneration.”
Of course, we all know what happened next. Just a few days later, that same client Zach pleads guilty to a felony. Not exactly the stuff that public credibility is made of. He could have just as easily said “my client has pleaded not guilty and we look forward to trial”. But old habits die hard and his tendency to try cases in media seems hard for him to escape.
The trouble with Mike Moore is that he never had to defend a guilty person in his professional career in any sort of publicly meaningful way. In all of his days as Mississippi AG, that allowed him to carry this aire of righteous indignation about him with regards to criminals. Now as the Scruggs consigliere, he seems to have been forced to throw away two decades of political and public goodwill that he has built up. That forfeiture of goodwill, I believe, is what cost Moore his run for the US Senate seat that he had long coveted. I just hope Scruggs has paid him well, and that it was all worth it.