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LNL – Hood’s had it with...

LNL – Hood’s had it with federal judge

By: Magnolia Tribune - June 6, 2008

Hood’s had it with federal judge

Upset with a federal judge’s criticism of his relationship with famed plaintiffs attorney and admitted felon Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said Friday he is planning to fight back.

Acker called Hood a “so-called ‘law enforcement official.'”

“We intend to file a motion asking the court to revise such uncalled-for derogatory conclusions,” Hood said.

“The rules of judicial performance do not allow a court to engage in unnecessary attacks on officers of the court, particularly when they are not even parties to the litigation.

“This Judge interfered with a grand jury investigation and we believe that either he, an appellate court, or the Alabama Commission on Judicial Performance will remedy this situation.”

Acker’s Dec. 2006 order told Scruggs, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in March to bribing a Mississippi state judge, to return insurance documents obtained through a pair of employees at E.A. Renfroe, Kerri Rigsby and Cori Rigsby Moran. The sisters have been sued by Renfroe.

Instead, Scruggs gave them to Hood, who had sued five insurance companies — including State Farm — over their handling of Katrina claims. He also pursued a criminal case against State Farm, while campaign contributor Scruggs had formed his own business enterprise for the purpose of clustering Katrina clients, terming it the “Scruggs Katrina Group.”

Acker recommended to U.S. Attorney Alice Martin that Scruggs be prosecuted for contempt, but she declined. Hood had written Martin, urging her not to file charges because Scruggs was acting as a confidential informant for his office. Acker then appointed three special prosecutors to file an indictment.

Florida federal judge Roger Vinson dismissed the charge in February, citing a lack of jurisdiction over Scruggs because Scruggs was not the sisters’ attorney. Had that not been the case, Vinson wrote he still would have dismissed the charge because of the law enforcement exception.

On Thursday, Acker again found Scruggs in contempt, as well as the Rigsby sisters, disagreeing with Vinson’s reasoning.

“Applying Judge Vinson’s reasoning, if the Rigsbys had had possession of the illicitly acquired materials on Dec. 8, 2006, the date of the injunction, they could, with impunity, have deposited the materials with General Hood, like Scruggs did, in reliance upon the supposed ‘law enforcement official’ exception,” Acker wrote.

“On that date, the Rigsbys still had some stolen materials in their possession. They were not as clever as Scruggs was. Instead of hiding the materials with General Hood, they quickly endeavored, if not with complete dedication or success, to comply with the clear mandate of the injunction.

“They had no problem understanding it. Scruggs looked for a loophole, and, according to Judge Vinson, found it, that is, with the help of his friend, a so-called ‘law enforcement official.’

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This article was produced by Magnolia Tribune staff.