Scruggs continues bid for overturning conviction; Backstrom’s sentence upheld

OXFORD — Imprisoned former attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs wants to take his push to vacate his 2009 conviction in a judicial bribery case to a federal appeals court. And a judge has denied a request to reduce the sentence of co-defendant Steve Backstrom

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Scruggs filed a motion asking a judge to let him file an appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson’s approval is needed before any appeal can be undertaken. He had not ruled on the motion by last Saturday.

Davidson last week dismissed Scruggs’ motion to vacate his 2009 guilty plea and sentence for alleged misdeeds in a case surrounding then-Judge Bobby DeLaughter of Hinds County, who presided over a legal-fees lawsuit against Scruggs and others.

Scruggs is serving a seven-year prison term for his DeLaughter conviction. The time was added onto his sentence for a 2007 guilty plea in the conspiracy to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey, who also presided over a legal-fees lawsuit against Scruggs and others.

His anticipated prison release is early 2015.

Scruggs also asks Davidson to recommend the 5th Circuit expedite the appeal before his prison sentence ends so that the appeal’s “remedy does not become moot by the passage of time.”

In a related item, a federal judge has denied a request to shorten the terms of post-prison supervision for former Oxford attorney Sidney Backstrom.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports in a one-page order this week U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers denied the reduction because Backstrom “has not been forthcoming” with the court twice since his 2008 guilty plea — at his sentencing hearing and at a co-defendant’s hearing.

Backstrom, Zach Scruggs, Zach’s famous lawyer father, Dickie Scruggs, and two others were accused in 2007 of conspiring to bribe a Mississippi judge who presided over a legal-fees lawsuit against the Scruggses and others.

Everyone pleaded guilty and went to prison. Zach Scruggs pleaded to knowing about a crime but failing to report it.

Backstrom’s supervision will end in August 2013.

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