This morning, we kicked off with a keynote session from Alan Lange and Tom Dawson, the authors of Kings of Tort (affiliate link), a chronicle of one of the legal profession’s more infamous criminals. It’s actually not that specific to technology, although it does relate to the world of in-house counsel.
Keep reading for an inside look at the politically connected Southern gentleman who transformed from David to Goliath, conspired to bribe a judge, and made many an in-house lawyer’s life miserable…
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]
[Ed. note: As we recently mentioned, we're looking for someone to write Morning Docket, on an alternating-week schedule. To those of you who have already applied, thanks for your interest; we'll review the applications and pick a writer this weekend. If you'd like to apply, there's still time -- just follow the application instructions contained in this post (but please note that the gig now comes with pay -- a modest monthly stipend). Thanks.]
* It seems to get worse by the day. The CIA apparently destroyed interrogation tapes while a federal judge was still looking for information about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. [New York Times]
* So what exactly are the federal government’s policies on border searches? Two groups sue to find out. [Washington Post]
* We like funny legal ads. But state regulators are not amused. [Wall Street Journal via How Appealing]
* Kibbles ‘n bits ‘n indictments. Two Chinese companies and an American importer are indicted in connection with tainted pet food. [New York Times]
* Professor Akhil Amar (our former con law prof; pictured) will be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in the administration of… Mike Gravel! Amar: “I’m not quitting my day job.” [Yale Daily News via How Appealing]
* The latest legal woes of Dickie Scruggs and friends. [WSJ Law Blog]
Yesterday the FBI executed a search warrant on the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, Mississippi — the shop of high-flying plaintiffs’ lawyer Dickie Scruggs. It wasn’t immediately clear what investigation the search was related to. Here’s some commentary on the situation that we enjoyed, from David Rossmiller (in brackets, following excerpt from news article):
“This is a surprise to everybody connected to the Scruggs Firm,” [lawyer Joey] Langston said, “but I’ve got to tell you people who are very high profile and very successful have to contend with unpleasantries and this is unpleasant, but we’ll contend with it.”
[I like the touch of noblesse oblige here -- as if the FBI descending on one's place of business is the same as, say, getting heckled by drunken lumpenproletariat while showing up in top hat and tails to receive an award for charitable giving.]
Multimillionaire trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs has been indicted on charges of conspiring to bribe a judge in the case involving $26.5-million in attorney fees involving Katrina claims….
According to the indictment, Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey cooperated with the FBI in the investigation after reporting a bribery overture to authorities.
According to the indictment, Scruggs and others tried to influence Lackey by giving him $40,000 in cash to resolve the attorney fees’ dispute in favor of Scruggs’ law firm. Some of the conversations between Balducci and Lackey were captured on tape.
Down in Mississippi, there has been speculation of a connection between the FBI search warrant and this week’s surprise resignation of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Scruggs’s brother-in-law. Lott’s office told the Sun Herald the two events were but a mere coincidence.
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 six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.