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United States v. Richard Scruggs, Untied States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Docket No. 12-60423

Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, an attorney and brother-in-law of Senator Trent Lott, was convicted in connection with a bribe of a state circuit court judge in a lawsuit involving a fee-sharing dispute with his co-counsel (the "Wilson Case"). More particularly, Scruggs offered to recommend the judge to Lott for a federal district court judgeship in exchange for the judge's help in winning the Wilson Case. Scruggs appealed from the denial of his 28 U.S.C.§ 2255 motion. However, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal concluded that Skilling v. United States, which addressed the constitutionality of the honest-services statute (i.e.- 18 U.S.C. § 1346), had no effect on the district court's subject matter jurisdiction over Scruggs' guilty plea. Scruggs had shown neither his actual innocence of post-Skilling honest-services fraud nor that there was cause and prejudice for failing to raise a constitutional-vagueness challenge to § 1346. Accordingly, Scruggs procedurally defaulted on his claim and the district court correctly denied his § 2255 motion. The appellate court also rejected Scruggs' First Amendment overbreadth challenge to § 1346. Accordingly, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed Scruggs' conviction.

 

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