Scruggs, others seek more time for pretrial matters - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Scruggs, others seek more time for pretrial matters

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Wealthy trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs and others indicted on judicial bribery charges are asking for more time to prepare for their federal trial.

Documents requesting more time were filed Monday by Scruggs; his son and law partner Zach Scruggs; attorney Sidney A. Backstrom; and former state Auditor Steve Patterson, who is not an attorney but works for a north Mississippi law firm.

U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers has set a Jan. 22 trial date in Oxford.

Anthony Farese, a lawyer for Zach Scruggs, said defense attorneys are still waiting for the government to share material from its investigation.

"The government is working diligently to make sure we receive discovery on time," Farese said. "It's a lot of work on their end."

Also Monday, Kenneth A. Coghlan of Oxford filed papers to withdraw as Patterson's attorney. He will be replaced by Hiram Eastland Jr. of Greenwood.

Five people were indicted Nov. 28 on federal bribery and conspiracy charges. One of them, Timothy Balducci, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the case and is helping investigators.

The charges arose from a lawsuit filed against Scruggs by another law firm that wants a bigger cut of at least $26.5 million in legal fees from a mass settlement of policyholder lawsuits over Hurricane Katrina damage.

Scruggs and a group of his legal associates known as the Scruggs Katrina Group brokered a deal with State Farm Insurance Cos. and were to split the legal fees. But the Jackson-based Jones, Funderburg, Sessums, Peterson & Lee firm, which worked on the case, said it was shortchanged.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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