Super Trial Lawyer, Scruggs, Indicted for Bribery

By November 29, 2007Briefly Legal

From Walter Olson and the indispensable Overlawyered.com:

“A federal grand jury today indicted one of the nation’s most successful trial lawyers, Richard F. Scruggs, on criminal charges that he and other lawyers engaged in a scheme to bribe a judge.” The 13-page indictment charges five lawyers, including Scruggs and his son and law partner Zach, with offering Mississippi state judge Henry Lackey $40,000 for favorable action in a lawsuit filed against the Scruggs firm over Katrina insurance fees. “The indictment says Judge Lackey, who sits in Mississippi’s Third Circuit Court District, reported the ‘bribery overture’ to federal authorities and agreed to assist investigators in an ‘undercover capacity.'” (AP/New York Times, Nov. 28; Biloxi Sun-Herald).

Jerry Mitchell of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger is out front on the story, reporting: “Some of the conversations between Balducci and the judge were apparently taped,” and reporting alleged language uttered by some of the indicted lawyers, including: “We paid for this ruling; let’s be sure it says what we want it to say.” (“Scruggs arrested on bribery charges”, Nov. 28). David Rossmiller is following developments at Point of Law and at his blog, where he has a PDF of the indictment.

More: Y’all Politics has considerable reader comment about the implications for other Mississippi political figures, and notes drily that “for starters, Dickie Scruggs fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on December 15th featuring Bill Clinton, will likely be cancelled.” Many sites, including Michelle Malkin’s, are speculating on the close proximity of these developments to the surprise retirement of Scruggs’ brother-in-law, Sen. Trent Lott.

UPDATE (12:30 p.m.) In all, five are indicted:

Among them is prominent asbestos and tobacco plaintiffs lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and his son, Zachary Scruggs, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A grand jury in Oxford, Miss., handed down the indictments Wednesday alleging the Scruggs, along with Sidney Backstrom, Timothy Balducci and employee Steven Patterson, made a bribery overture to Judge Henry Lackey.

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