The edifice built by years of abusive lawsuits and campaign contributions is trembling. Now, trial lawyer extraordinaire Dickie Scruggs of Mississippi enters a suprise guilty plea to trying to bribe a judge. From the Wall Street Journal:
Mississippi plaintiffs attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy in a judicial bribery case. The surprise plea came during a hearing on pretrial matters. His trial was set to begin at the end of the month. Scruggs and co-defendant Sidney Backstrom both pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a judge. Scruggs’s son, Zach, also is charged in the case but hasn’t entered a plea.
The three were accused of conspiring to bribe a Lafayette County Circuit Court judge for a favorable ruling in a dispute over $26.5 million in legal fees from a mass settlement of Hurricane Katrina cases.
The Journal had a lengthy page one story today on the events that led to the charges.
Last November, a lawyer who was working with famed plaintiffs’ attorney Richard Scruggs entered the chambers of a local Mississippi judge and delivered the last chunk of a $40,000 cash payment. In return, the judge said he would issue a ruling favorable to Mr. Scruggs in a fee dispute with other lawyers.
Driving away after delivering the cash, the lawyer was pulled over by federal agents and confronted with videos of his visits. He soon agreed to wear a wire. Within a month, a federal grand jury had charged Mr. Scruggs, the architect of landmark litigation against cigarette makers, with conspiracy to bribe a state official.
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