For Scruggs, Prison, Fines, Loss of Law License

By March 14, 2008Briefly Legal

The first eyewitness account to events in the Oxford, Miss., courtroom this morning when Dickie Scruggs pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bride a judge comes from Patsy R. Brumfield, a reporter with the local Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. She reports that the government has recommended a sentence of five years in prison for Scruggs and 2 1/2 years for Backstrom. They also will pay a maximum fine of $250,000 each and a court fee, and are likely to voluntarily surrender their law licenses.

Before Biggers accepted their pleas, Scruggs and Backstrom admitted in open court that they had done what the government said they had done in Count One – they had conspired to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City for a favorable order in a Katrina-related legal fees case.

When it was Backstrom’s turn to speak, he began quietly, “I want to apologize to the court…” then his voice trailed off as he broke down, his voice choked with emotion.

Dickie Scruggs, arguably the most famous plaintiffs’ attorney in the U.S., looked pale and thin but carried himself with a bit more control than his younger colleague at The Scruggs Law Firm, headquartered on the storied Square in Oxford.

Scruggs stood in front of the judge’s bench, straight, with shoulders back, beside his California attorney John Keker who was the only member of the defense legal team there for Scruggs.

The 61-year-old Ole Miss Law School grad and legal giant-killer, as well as Backstrom, likely will voluntarily surrender their law licenses, as has co-defendant Timothy Balducci of New Albany, who pleaded guilty in December although he was wired and cooperating with the government at least a month earlier.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has a line-up of the principles in this case.

UPDATE (2:05 p.m.): Be sure to read the Insurance Coverage Law Blog for details and perspective.

UPDATE (2:20 p.m.): Los Angles Times reporter Richard Faussett’s account:

ATLANTA — Over the years, Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs earned a reputation as one of the most wily and powerful plaintiff’s attorneys on Earth. Along the way, he was hailed as a hero of the little guy. He was also derided as a scoundrel who would stoop as low as he needed to get his way, and fatten his bank account.

Today, his critics rested their case in the court of opinion.

Or maybe just the court.

Leave a Reply