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Scruggs appeal denied

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Dickie Scruggs pled guilty to a scheme to bribe a judge, but has been trying to do undo his plea. The Fifth Circuit would have none of Scruggs's attempts to shoehorn an indictment for bribery under Skilling. More at Alan Lange's blog.

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If this was merely the Fifth Circuit rejecting a "shoehorning," I wouldn't be concerned, but the Fifth Circuit's opinion goes way beyond Scruggs. It largely assumed he was okay with the shoehorning. Instead, the Fifth Circuit held that, if a defendant pleads guilty to a "crime" that is subsequently sharply narrowed by the Supreme Court, then the defendant can't use the benefit of that holding unless they properly preserved the same challenges in their case.

That, to me, is concerning. It certainly reduces the workload of the courts, but it also means that a fair number of people can end up sitting in prison for "crimes" that are not actually crimes, without the opportunity for re-opening their proceedings to show they didn't really commit the "crime."

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


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