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OXFORD, MISS. � Lawyers throughout Mississippi were carefully tracking � and buzzing about � major developments this week in the case being brought by State Farm Insurance against multimillionare trial attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. The case involves State Farm’s suit against Hood for allegedly violating a deal not to criminally prosecute the company for non-payment of Hurricane Katrina claims after the company agreed to a civil settlement. It also concerns allegations that Scruggs “leaked” to Hood smoking-gun documents given to him by former insurance adjusters for a State Farm contractor. On Monday, Mississippi federal Judge Michael Mills slammed Scruggs for failing to give a deposition to State Farm on the matter by a Feb. 4 deadline. Scruggs’ attorney, John Keker of San Francisco, had exchanged e-mails with State Farm attorneys over the weekend, saying he was out of the country and recovering from surgery. State Farm attorney Barney Robinson, of Jackson, Miss.’s Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada, forwarded the e-mails to Mills. An angry judge The judge issued a strongly worded order calling Scruggs’ non-compliance unacceptable and saying “any future non-compliance with this court’s order relating to Scruggs’ deposition will be dealt with as contempt.” Scruggs was given until 5 p.m. Tuesday to give his deposition. Keker said Scruggs gave a two-hour deposition on Tuesday, and said it was under seal. The deposition transcript was supposedly shipped to Natchez, Miss., in time for an all-day hearing Wednesday before federal judge David Bramlett on the State Farm v. Jim Hood case, she said. Hood testified Wednesday at the hearing, which was to determine whether a temporary restraining order barring Hood from prosecuting State Farm should be extended. Scruggs was not expected to testify. State Farm spokesman Fraser Engerman said he was not allowed to comment on whether Scruggs gave his deposition or not. Neither Scruggs nor Keker returned calls for comment. In his e-mail to Robinson, Keker stated that he was advising Scruggs to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and “not answer any of your questions.” A clerk for Bramlett said she did not know if Scruggs’ deposition arrived in Natchez.

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