Powerful plaintiffs attorney Richard ”Dickie” Scruggs and a co-defendant pleaded guilty Friday to conspiring to bribe a judge for a favorable ruling in a case involving legal fees from a post-Hurricane Katrina lawsuit.
The surprise plea came Friday during a hearing in Oxford, Miss. on pretrial matters, court officials said. His trial was set to begin at the end of the month.
Scruggs, 61, and co-defendant Sidney Backstrom both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. Scruggs’ law partner and son, Zach, also is charged in the case but did not enter a plea and is expected to go to trial.
Prosecutors said they would recommend five years in prison for Scruggs and 2 1/2 for Backstrom, penalties significantly lower than what they could have faced.
Two quick thoughts. First, has Scruggs employed bribery as a tactic in other matters — e.g., the tobacco cases that made him famous (and a movie star)? Second, could Mississippi give Louisiana a run for its money as most corrupt state in the union?
P.S. And maybe one could throw West Virginia into the running. Seehere (noting federal investigation of the West Virginia Supreme Court, in connection with the Massey Energy case).
P.P.S. No offense to any of the aforementioned states. Our home state of New Jersey is also up there — or down there, as the case may be. Update: From the ABA Journal: “Dickie Scruggs: Now that he’s been accused of pleaded guilty to bribery, there are questions about how he achieved so much.” Miss. Attorney Pleads in Bribery Case [AP] Breaking News: Scruggs Pleads Guilty [WSJ Law Blog] Long Live the King of Torts? [ABA Journal]
Thanks to a Kansan sheriff, this great story now has the legal twist we hoped for. A 35-year-old woman sat on her boyfriend’s toilet long enough to become stuck to it.
Criminal charges against her boyfriend are now in the works, according to the Kansas City Star:
Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple said Thursday he asked the county attorney to file charges against Kory McFarren for mistreatment of a dependent adult. The county attorney will decide whether any charges are brought.
By our count, the girlfriend spent Valentine’s Day in the bathroom. If “food and water” did not include chocolates on February 14th, this guy is definitely guilty of mistreatment.
McFarren said she moved around in the bathroom during that time, bathed and changed into clothes he brought her. He brought food and water to her. They had conversations and an otherwise normal relationship — except it all happened in the bathroom.
Here is today’s Job of the Week, brought to you by Lateral Link. Over the last week, Lateral Link members received offers from Skadden Arps (Houston), Mayer Brown (New York), Gibson Dunn (San Francisco), Cooley Godward (LA), Clifford Chance (Warsaw), and Morgan Lewis (New York). Position: Associate General Counsel Location: Chicago, IL Description: One of the top office products retailers in North America is seeking an Associate General Counsel to work in its Naperville, IL headquarters. The Corporate Counsel position will provide transactional legal counsel and other services to clients within the company. The successful candidate will be part of a team of attorneys whose primary responsibility is to review and negotiate all business transactions on behalf of the company, and to manage other legal issues common to a large, international organization. The position will report to a Vice President, Associate General Counsel. The candidate will have authority to select and hire outside counsel, consultants, and other professionals as necessary for handling legal transactions.
More information, about the company and the position (including the job code), after the jump.
As you may recall, when Governor Eliot Spitzer was told that “Kristen” would be servicing him, he asked what she looked like.
Here’s what one student at the Spitzers’ alma mater had to say on the subject, after seeing the Spitzers’ 1984 HLS yearbook photos (in black and white, at right; the color photos are of Kristen):
Some have said young Silda kind of resembles Kristen the Call Girl.
Not sure I see it, but that’s a depressing thought.
Actually, we kinda do see a resemblance. But since Spitzer is (or was) a politician, let’s put it up to the popular vote:
While we’re on the subject of the Spitzers and their Harvard Law School days, a different tipster tells us:
I’m in Alvin Warren’s corporate tax class, and he said in class on Tuesday, when somehow the subject of him not teaching came up: “What would I be doing if I weren’t teaching? I’d be like Spitzer — doomed to be rich in New York. [Pause.] He took this class. As, alas, did his wife. I take no responsibility though.”
Move over, Eliot Spitzer and the Emperor’s Club. The St. Petersburg Times has a story on a Florida judge accused of stealing money from a New York stripper:
Christy Yamanaka says she had sex with 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Thomas E. Stringer Sr. three times during their 15-year friendship.
She paid him rent in a home he once owned in Hawaii, and now lives in a New York City apartment leased under his name.
She says the married father of five owes her hundreds of thousands of dollars that he helped hide from creditors.
I’m not sure why the number of times the judge and the stripper had sex is the lead on this story. But hey, it is interesting!
The details on the juicier financial dealings follow. Sometimes it’s best not to keep it in the family:
Yamanaka said she contacted Stringer during the spring of 2004. She had declared bankruptcy in Las Vegas, and creditors won $315,000 in judgments against her. She hoped Stringer would help her sort out the legal mess.
The judge acknowledges that he referred Yamanaka to his son, Tampa attorney Daryl Stringer.
So, is it better to be “an Emperor” or “Your Majesty?”
Out of respect, she called Stringer “Your Majesty.”
Yamanaka had lived in Japan for seven years and says the country revered judges almost like gods.
My name is Kashmir Hill, and I’ll be David Lat’s co-blogger for the day. Before digging into today’s headlines, I’d like to introduce myself.
I’m a Washington, D.C., non-profiteer (aka low-paid nonprofit organization employee) and come to ATL from the journalism world. I manage international educational programs for journalists for the National Press Foundation. I also go to a lot of fun media awards dinners, like the Radio TV News Correspondents Dinner last March, where I watched Karl Rove rap and touched POTUS’s elbow. It was at such a dinner where I had the pleasure of meeting ATL’s editor-in-chief.
My legal experience is not limited to being surrounded by lawyers and law students in D.C. I did a post-college stint as a paralegal for Covington & Burling. Which convinced me not to go to law school.
Having lived in D.C. for five years, I’ve almost forgotten that there are people in the world who are not lawyers, journalists or government workers. Writing for ATL will allow me to stay in the law-journo bubble that is my comfort zone.
We just came back from meeting a friend for drinks at the Mayflower Hotel, here in Washington, DC. We expressed a desire to see the door of the infamous room where New York Governor Eliot Spitzer got it on with that high-class hooker, “Kristen.” But we’d heard, on the radio, that the hotel had stationed a guard on the eighth floor, to prevent gawkers from walking past the notorious room 871 (just as travelers have besieged the Minneapolis airport bathroom made famous by Senator Larry Craig).
As it turned out, we were in luck. Our friend was staying at the Mayflower — on the eighth floor, conveniently enough. So we were able to make our way up there without any problem.
When we got up there, we didn’t see a guard; perhaps the guard was removed after the initial frenzy died down. But we did notice the hotel had removed the “871″ nameplate, presumably to prevent scandal-tourists like ourselves from taking photographs of it. Correction: It appears that the “871″ room number wasn’t removed by the hotel, but was stolen.
So all we can give you are photos of (1) the door to room no. 871, and (2) the marks where the nameplate used to be. Check them out, after the jump.
* Before they were famous: a portrait of Eliot Spitzer and Jim Cramer as young men. [Dealbreaker]
* In case you’re not yet tired of talking about Obama’s tax plan. [TaxProf Blog]
* Request for supplemental briefing? “If one child can have two mothers, or two fathers, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, can one law be defended by two state officials?” [Legal Pad]
* Lawyer of the Day? If the allegations are true, she saved her client from the folly of buying Miami condos. [Daily Business Review]
* Some legal documents “are so poorly written – full of ambiguities, inconsistencies, ‘circular references’ and worse, contradictions – that many investors, trustees and respective legal advisors do not know how to interpret them.” Which is precisely why they need to hire $600-an-hour lawyers. [Financial Times (subscription)]
Here’s the latest crazy Eliot Spitzer rumor we’ve heard. In the past few days, there has been a torrent of Spitzer coverage, so we apologize if it has surfaced elsewhere. But we don’t recall coming across this tidbit already, and our Google News and Technorati searches for “spitzer lick” came up… clean.
This comes from a reliable ATL tipster, whose true identity is known to us, and who has given us good info in the past. But the tipster is two degrees removed from the young woman who allegedly interacted with Governor Spitzer, so apply whatever gossip discount factor you deem appropriate. Here it is:
[A friend of a friend is] a Swiss-Brazilian girl who went to D.C. to f**k Spitzer over the summer. Apparently he’s been up to this for awhile.
Apparently, his dirty request is for girls to lick his ass. Which seems peculiarly apropos. And he wanted to get his wife in on the action. My friend thought his wife might have known, but wasn’t sure.
Sounds pretty incredible, right? But the notion of New York’s governor patronizing prostitutes would have sounded pretty incredible too, prior to Monday. If you can buy the notion of a sitting governor hiring hookers, why can’t you imagine him sitting on their faces?
Also, our source claims to have heard about it three weeks ago, well before the scandal became public. At the time, he says, he “thought it was bogus.” Little did he know.
It’s hard to believe that Governor Spitzer thought he could keep his patronage of prostitutes secret for long, given his political prominence. As we heard someone quip on a talk radio show a few days ago, “Does he really believe that prostitutes don’t read newspapers?” Update: Comment of the day:
The tipster forgot to mention that he made the girls wear AIG T-Shirts when they had to slobber up.
As we previously mentioned, former AutoAdmit.com executive Anthony Ciolli has sued a number of individuals involved in the AutoAdmit lawsuit (originally Doe v. Ciolli). In his complaint (PDF), he claims that the defendants caused him to lose his job offer at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge in Boston.
But maybe Ciolli should be thankful he’s not at Edwards Angell right now. We hear the environment over there is less than peachy, characterized by tension and anxiety similar to what preceded the associate layoffs at Cadwalader and Dechert. From one source:
You may want to keep an eye on EAP&D today. There are rumors of a departure of one of the firm’s high-powered partners yesterday and that some associates may be axed.
And from a second:
Layoff rumors have been circulating for a week now. Word on the street is they’re going to let go several (dozen) associates later this week. Management has not addressed the rumors, but both partners and associates hear it is indeed going to happen.
If Edwards Angell axes associates, expect it to come tomorrow. It’s always best to break bad news on a Friday afternoon (which is when word of the Dechert layoffs got out).
If you have inside info, please email us. We have a call in to the firm; if and when they get back to us, we’ll let you know. Thanks. Update: We hear, through the grapevine, that partners at EAPD have accused ATL “of being rife with inaccuracies.” We gave the firm the chance to comment on the rumors, but heard not a peep. We’re happy to correct any alleged inaccuracies if the firm ever provides us with information.
When law students are choosing among law firms, they inquire into such predictable things. What’s the firm’s billable hour requirement? How is work distributed? What about pro bono? For lawyers involved in recruiting, it must get boring to have to answer the same questions over and over again.
So law students, next time you interview with a firm, ask about something that really matters: What is the firm’s policy towards associates who want to participate in reality television shows?
Is the firm supportive of such endeavors? Can I take a leave of absence for the show’s filming, and then return in good standing? If so, will my year-end bonus get prorated?
As it turns out, Biglaw shops take different approaches to reality TV. It was rumored that Sidley Austin was none too pleased when associate David Otunga decided to participate in I Love New York 2 (and he is no longer at the firm). As for his performance on the show, the Harvard Law School grad made it to the final three, before losing to “Buddha” and “Tailor Made.”
Contrast Sidley’s reaction to that of K&L Gates. The firm allowed an associate in its Washington office — the highly attractive Denise Gitsham, 30, a recent Georgetown Law grad and former Bush aide — to take leave to be on “The Bachelor.” Now it welcomes her back with open arms. From an email recently sent around by D.C.-based partner Mark Ruge:
This Monday, at 9:30 p.m. on ABC, is the season premier of the hit television show, The Bachelor. (“The Bachelor” is the nation’s highest-rated reality TV show in the 18-45 female demographic group. It is now entering its 12th season on network television.)
Believe it or not, one of the contestants this season will be our own associate Denise Gitsham, who was away “on location” during much of February. Here is a link to the show’s web site and Denise’s bio:
Denise’s name, photo, and bio were submitted to the show by her cousin, and Denise was selected to be one of the show’s 25 bachelorettes out of more than 12,000 applicants. She was under extreme confidentiality requirements during her adventure (and still is to some degree). At least now, though, she is free to admit what she was doing during her mysterious leave in February.
Just thought you would like to know…
K&L Gates lawyers: if you need to send something to Denise via intra-office mail, the delivery should be accompanied by a rose. Thanks.
P.S. We can’t find Denise Gitsham on the firm website (although we did find a “Denise Stiffarm” in Seattle). We’re guessing that Denise has been too busy filming The Bachelor to fill out all that pesky bar admission paperwork. Update: Denise Gitsham is now on the K&L Gates website. Denise Gitsham bio [The Bachelor]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
Connecticut plaintiffs-side boutique litigation firm (12 lawyers) seeks full-time associate with 2-4 years litigation experience, top tier undergraduate and law school education. Journal or clerkship experience a plus; highest ethical standards and strong work ethic required. Familiarity with Connecticut state court legal practice is preferred, but not required.
The firm handles sophisticated, high-end cases for plaintiffs, including individuals and businesses with significant claims in a wide array of matters. Our cases often have important public policy implications, and are litigated in state and federal courts throughout Connecticut. Representative areas of practice include medical malpractice, catastrophic personal injury, business torts, deceptive trade practices and other complex commercial litigation, and products liability.
Additional information can be located on our website, at www.sgtlaw.com.