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Some quick observations about Kings of Tort

The parts of the book that are from Dawson’s perspective (not written in first person, but sufficiently personal that it talks about what he thought) have an insider’s view of how the decisions were made in the investigation and in plea bargaining.  There is some newsworthy stuff in the November-December 2007 timeframe, particularly about Joey Langston (describing the timing of when he realized he was toast) and Trent Lott (describing the kid-gloves ways that Greenlee and Dawson dealt with him in December of 2007 when they wanted to know about the call to DeLaughter.  The book also goes out of the way to say Lott’s resignation was an oddly timed coincidence having nothing to do with the Scruggs cases)  There’s also newsworthy stuff describing the plea bargaining with Keker.

There’s a lot missing– nothing about the Jones sanctions hearings (for instance, nothing about Judge Lackey’s dramatic testimony), nothing about the bizarre courtroom scenes before DeLaughter at the end of Wilson, and, with the sole exception of Dawson (possible other exceptions– Judge Lackey and Balducci), no serious attempt to understand or make into vivid characters the subjects of the book.

Basic facts are there pretty much, though usually at rough-outline level.  The political views of Alan Lange don’t really affect it, although his views of the Minor case are strongly and clearly stated.  With the exception of the Dawson-focused parts, the writing can be tough sledding, but there is definitely news in the book for Scruggs case aficionados.

Oh, and asbestos has “shards” not “chards.”

I have a brief walk on part as a blogger, as does Lotus.  Alan Lange is of course described as the center of the Scruggs-blogging world.

47 comments to Some quick observations about Kings of Tort

  • Ben

    Lange is SUCH an humble fella ….

  • DeltaLawMama

    Sounds like thin gruel. I will wait for meatier fare to be presented. Something suitable with Southern Gothic proportions of course.

  • Intrepid Process Server

    I’m sure a lot of NMC’s traffic would disagree as to the center of the Scruggs blog-o-verse :)

  • JaneT

    The number of pages (scant, considering the subject) made me skeptical of it being anything like another “A Civil Action”.

  • thesoundandthefury

    Just a few thoughts on the season’s recent book from the lunatic fringe, KINGS OF TORT.

    This is a comical piece of fantasy written by a confederacy of dunces. A vanity publication like this can only yield and abundance of absurd, self-serving conceit disguised as journalism parading as fact and measuring as important. THE BOOK IS A TORT!!

    Now for the main players.

    DICK SCRUGGS- Gordon Gecko on steroids.
    Greed and the inability to say “no” led to his downfall. In the annals of human history no one has been betrayed more than poor Richard Scruggs. Abel had Cain, Sampson had Delilah, Cesar had Brutus and Dick had Balducci.
    If only he could have said “no” to the crime that was being created by the cabal of partisans at the United States Attorney’s Office. It was Scruggs the person, not the crime that was prosecuted. That is the real tragedy of this case; our government should prosecute crimes, not people. No crime existed, but the larger that life Mr. Scruggs did. So little people with big power and personal and political motive se out to destroy Poor Richard Scruggs. It was not hard to do; after all they had the entire United States Government on their side!! No checks and balances here-no judge-no one to stop the mob like lynching of poor Richard.

    JIM GREENLEE- U.S Attorney
    A cross between Senator Joseph McCarthy and Barney Fife, frightening and comical at the same time. Greenlee is a vain narcissistic political hack. He is a thoroughly partisan republican guerrilla obsessed with making a big splash in the news. He lusted for a prosecution of Congressman Bennie Thompson. Despised by his own staff, this pompous peacock is of no consequence at all. Sadly he is as obscure now as ever. His Staff stole his glory!

    TOM DAWSON- Chief Prosecutor and Co-Author
    A Ken Starr trained Neanderthal, willing to obliterate the Bill of Rights for the sake of satisfying his own sick fascist ideology. Unethical to the extreme, Dawson prosecutes this case with the twin motive of advancing a right-wing political agenda and self –aggrandizement. His reputation has been built by “hunting over baited fields”, and this is exactly what he did in this case. His views would be the envy of Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s’ Russia, or Castro’s Cuba.
    He should remain in retirement because he will never make it as a historian or a journalist, although his vivid conspiratorial imagination might lend itself to another work of fiction like the KINGS OF TORT!

    ALAN LANGE – Co-Author
    PATHETIC!! Mr. Lange should stick to his feeble narrow-minded blogging, where he can make up facts like he has attempted to do eloquently in this book. Crawl back to the slimy cave from which you came Mr. Lange, perhaps you will find all of your friends from the Salem Witch Trails down there.

    TIM BALDUCCI
    In the art galleries of Paris there are 27 pictures of Judas Iscariot- none look alike, yet they all resemble Tim Balducci. He is a pert, shameless little creature who willingly laid down his friends for his life. May God have mercy on his soul!!

    JUDGE HENRY LACKEY
    Aptly named, for he is surely a “lackey” for big insurance, the republican party and a lackey for all who have contempt for the Constitution. Neither his head, hand nor heart can be trusted. Of the 206 bones in his body, there isn’t a one that is genuine; his heart has beaten over two billion times without a single sincere beat. He is a cross between a deep water Baptist and a cowardly hyena with a ridiculous thirst for the accolades of those who have retarded our state for decades. Bilbo would love ole’ Henry. Like Bilbo, he extorted money, screamed bribe, and became a hero.

    JUDGE BOBBY DELAUGHTER
    Dreadfully tragic!! Delaughter was possibly the very best State Court Judge in Mississippi. He is going to jail and Henry Lackey is collecting awards, what a deplorable fact. Delaughter owes his professional and political existence to his former boss Ed Peters. Peters tried to exert improper influence on Judge Delaughter. According to Judge Delaughter, it did not work. The rulings he made will stand up to the scrutiny of legal scholars anywhere, anytime. Yet, Judge Delaughter tried to protect his mentor and old fried by misleading the FBI. A dreadful tragedy.

    ED PETERS
    Another tragedy!! Peters was once a great man and without question one of the best Prosecutors in the State. Now he is just another slick bastard who turned Judas on his friend to save his own butt. It is now apparent that Peters will milk his neighbor’s cow through a crack in the fence. Yet, it is the Cabal of partisans at the US attorney’s office who chose to let Mr. Peters off the hook. Mr. Peters while you are on your fishing trips, I hope you are practicing “catch and release” because that is what these idiots have done with you!!

    FORMER SENATOR TRENT LOTT
    Ole’ Trent is another slick bastard!! If a bribe was offered to a Judge Delaughter, who offered it?? You guessed it. Ole helmet head himself!! Does anyone seriously believe that Sen. Lott’s retirement the day before the scandal broke is just a coincidence?? Why as ole’ Trent not prosecuted?? Could it have do with his party affiliation? You guessed it, of course it does. Trent not only are you slick you are lucky as well…. But then again maybe not, the fix was in.
    JUSTICE; is anything about this book or these cases about justice? Or just politics as usual? You guessed it- Politics!!

  • NMC

    not sure what it is you’re signifying, thesoundandthefury, but it might be nothing.

  • Phantom

    Sounds like the only thing missing from the book is a vampire or two…a very hot creature in the current pop culture arena.

  • DeltaLawMama

    (Mule Eating Corn Grin)

  • NotZachScruggs

    My, my, soundandfury. Not sure I understand all that you’re saying, but I must confess that I’m fond of the image of milking a neighbor’s cow through a crack in the fence. I don’t see Mr. or Mrs. Patterson in your analysis — might you be one of them?

  • Ben

    But then again ….

  • Bluzlover

    Why oh why am I not surprised at the quality of this book (but I am laughing myself silly reading your . . . erm . . . dry review, Tom.

    Lange . . . oh, well, nevermind.

  • Tightlip

    Who knew they had internet in the penal system.

  • Bluzlover

    I’m still trying to figure out what dish is DeLaughter’s old fried and where the Salem Witch Trail is (I might want to go hiking).

    That post was embarrassing for any progressives out here; it strongly suggests that not all the unwashed and uneducated are on the other side, but overdoes it a bit. Call me a cynic, but this sounds like a rightie tightie trying to pull a fast one, particularly onsidering the name he/she chose.

  • Observer

    HENRY LACKEY. If I was given the choice of which judge would make a decision, in either a civil or a criminal case, which would affect my life, I, for one, would WANT Judge Lackey to be that judge. Bobby DeLaughter has always been pompous and self-important. Many circuit judges count noses (that is, voters) before they rule (in both civil and criminal cases). Judge Lackey may do some of that, but he has demonstrated many times the back-bone to make unpopular rulings, and he is filled with compassion. There’s little doubt that DeLaughter lied to the FBI. Although I don’t agree with it, lying to the FBI is a crime and it is a law that was violated. DeLaughter could and should have kept his mouth shut. He also could and should have chosen a higher quality person for a friend and mentor. Meanwhile, if Dickie Scruggs hadn’t been trying to screw seemingly everyone who ever worked with him out of their fair share of the pie, Dickie could have flown his G-V to Bermuda for the holiday just passed instead of appearing in chains in the Daily Journal.

  • Ljm

    Ooops, Bluzlover, while you were so busily nit-picking the typing skills of SoundandFury, seems you made one your own self! I usually try to look beyond typos – since we are ALL capable of making them (Hmmm?). And I think S&F’s analysis is pretty accurate. A little dramatic, maybe. But, accurate. Like NotZachScruss, though, I do wonder why he skipped Patterson (and Langston). Considering his description of the others, I’d REALLY like to hear how he’d describe Patterson!!

  • JoeInnaKeys

    Think I’d rather read SoundFury’s book–

  • Bluzlover

    Sorry to disappoint you Ljm, but I didn’t have to busy myself (it was far too easy to pick those two out, and had I busied myself, I might have actually bothered to pick a nit or two). As it happened, what I picked were not nits but too many careless typos/misspellings (whichever they were) that seemed coincidentally humorous. I will agree that one should take care of their own typos before pointing out those of another, but I confess that I was carried away by the blousy rhetoric I’d just read.

  • Soundandfury is definitely from mississippi, I’ll give him that. No wonder the Daily Journal’s latest Sunday paper was full full of a bunch of shysters.

  • marisbeckett

    So far below the minimum standard of bona fide writing, I have no word to tag it with. When you can’t get Lecky King’s gender right . . .

  • Robert

    Recent discovry shows the center of the Scrugs blog-o-verse actually circling thesouthandthefury. Nail hitting comment. Patterson, Langston?

  • NMC

    I was kind of startled by that one, maris.

  • Ljm

    Would one of you give me a real life example of Bobby DeLaughter behaving “pompously”. I’ve known this man for quite a while and I can not even begin to reconcile the man I known with such a description. Quiet, reserved, private…yes. Pompous? No way. He’s a devoted family man. Loyal (to a fault). Generous to his community. Kind (very!) AND, very compassionate. (I know this for a fact.) So, please tell me. Why do you describe him as pompous? As for “lying” to the FBI, if you consider “not telling everything you know about a friend” and “lying” to be the same thing, then, yeah, maybe he is guilty of that. On the other hand, we can never know for sure what he did or did not say since there is no documentation of their conversation. Besides, I can’t say I’d have handled the situation any differently under the same circumstances. You can’t either…unless, of course, you HAVE no friends. Then, I guess you’d have no reason to feel any sense of loyalty to anyone.

  • BlackBear

    Hey Ljm – ask Cedric Willis about the compassion of Bobby DeLaughter while you are at it over there. Furthermore, we have no idea what other crimes he committed because he copped a plea to obstruction – I guess ole Zach joking about entering a motion on a napkin was just his idea of bullsh*tting with his lawyer.

  • NMC

    Ljm, if what you’re suggesting is that Bobby DeLaughter wasn’t a corrupt judge, let me know, and tomorrow, I’ll give you some examples to the contrary.

    He was flying the pirate flag, following the lead of his mentor Ed Peters.

    “Devoted family man” “kind to his dogs,” whatever. The corruption he fell in with was a serious sad tale. But he chose to fall in with thieves, and it’s provable. I’m sorry, but every monster in history was a devoted family man. That’s not the question here.

  • Ljm

    BlackBear, I’m quite sure that the Fed’s would have NEVER let Delaughter off with only a plea to obstruction if they had even a sliver of evidence to support any other charges. As for ole Zach, that whole bunch of arrogant theives really believed they ruled the world. There MUST have been somebody other than Bobby Delaughter contributing to that belief since most of their cases were not in his court. (Was there any other besides Wilson?)

    Now, I understand the sentiment regarding Cedric Willis but, let’s by honest here. DeLaughter didn’t “hide” evidence, he simply “asked” the court to not allow it to be introduced. He was doing his job – which was to win a conviction. It was Mr Willis’s defense attorney’s job to argue against DeLaughter. Don’t blame DeLaughter for the defense’s ineffectiveness and don’t single DeLaughter out for criticism over this tactic when every single prosecutor & every single defense attorney in this country tries to have the court suppress every shred of evidence that doesn’t support THEIR particular position. The fact is, DeLaughter “happened to be” the prosecutor in Mr. Willis’s case but it could have just as easily been anyone else on staff at that time and the result would have been the same. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I mean no disrespect for Mr. Willis. I KNOW how he & his family feels. You see, Mr. Willis is not the first, nor will he be the last innocent person to spend time in prison because of an ineffective defense attorney. I KNOW how Mr. Willis feels because I have a very close friend who spent several years in prison for a crime he did not commit. And, DeLaughter was the presiding judge. But we don’t blame the prosecutor and we don’t blame Delaughter. They were just doing their jobs. We place the blame with the defense attorney who showed up in court TOTALLY unprepared. So, yes, I do understand how Mr. Willis feels – and – I understand why DeLaughter would accept a plea offer, regardless of actual guilt.

  • Anderson

    BlackBear, I’m quite sure that the Fed’s would have NEVER let Delaughter off with only a plea to obstruction if they had even a sliver of evidence to support any other charges.

    That’s splendid that you are “quite sure,” but permit the rest of us to doubt. A “sliver” of evidence may well be insufficient to convict. And as so often is the case, the best witnesses against DeLaughter were themselves corrupt and liable to some fairly nasty cross-examination.

    The fact remains that DeLaughter worked ex parte with one side to help it achieve its desired result. That makes him … let me think of the technical term … ah, I have it: “scum.” Friendly, dignified, good-to-his-family scum.

  • zackdog31

    Bobby Delaughter may be a great guy in his personal life, but in his professional life, it is undisputed that he met with Ed Peters on numerous occasions ex parte and shared a draft opinion with one side for its comments. At a minimum, he should be disbarred for that behavior alone. But apparently, it was not limited to the Wilson case, but was a pattern of his. I do not know what he received from Peters or whether Peters had something “on him” that persuaded DeLaughter to ignore his ethical obligations and I doubt we will ever know. But what we do know is sufficient to conclude that he is an unethical lawyer even if he is a good family man.

    And as a lawyer practicing before him, my own experience was that he had a very high opinion of himself, and that while he started off being a good judge, his rulings became erratic over time. He was always arrogant on the bench.

    Ljm thinks that if he did anything other than obstruct justice, then the feds wouldn’t have let him plead. Turn that around–a judge doesn’t plead guilty to a felony that gives him prison time, removes him from the bench and requires his disbarment unless he is guilty. The guy deserves every bit of the public scorn he is receiving. I had high hopes for him, and he is certainly not the first judge to be arrogant. In fact, most of the lawyers I know don’t hold his arrogance against him. But cheating for one side or the other is wrong and deserves both jail time and capital punishment of his career.

    Do not mistake–there are other judges who deserve it too–Unfortunately, we haven’t caught them red-habded yet. But the fact that there are other judges who behave similiarly to DeLaughter doesn’t make it right, and shouldn’t ameliorate the penalty against any we catch.

  • I read the Kirk case for NMC. It was pretty obvious some hijinks were going on between the lawyers and Delaughter.

  • Ljm

    Zackdog, I’ll have to take issue with your opinion of what is disputed and what is not. I’ll concede that DeLaughter “met with Ed Peters on numerous occasions”. It IS undisputed that Ed Peters WAS a close personal friend of DeLaughter and his family. Therefore, it can be assumed that they spent quite a lot of time together. And, since both are human, I assume they often “talked shop”. Most people (if they are still breathing) do. However, there is NO evidence that DeLaughter shared a draft opinion with anyone. Yes, I know what Balducci said. And I know that every time he told his story, it changed. But, according to his latest depositions, it is HE who claims to have prepared a document that, if I remember correctly, he claims to have passed on to Langston who supposedly passed it to Peters for him to pass on to DeLaughter – none of which, Balducci admits, he did actually witness. He claims to have prepared this document on a computer located in Langston’s office, a computer for which the Feds have the hard drive that, as of July 2009, has never been transcribed. Therefore, at this point, all we have is Balducci FIRST claiming that DeLaughter emailed a copy of the order to Peters who passed it on to Scruggs, THEN, we have him changing his story to say that the language in DeLaughter’s opinion is essentially the same as what he (Balducci) drafted and passed on to Langston. Bottom line, there is NO evidence that DeLaughter passed anything ex parte to the Scruggs team or anyone else. I suspect that, if there HAD been any such evidence, the Feds would have been much more inclined to go to trial on the “honest services” charges. don’t you?

    As for it being “obvious” that DeLaughter has a high opinion of himself, that’s what I’m trying to understand. What, exactly, did he do that lead you to that conclusion (and I’m reading that to mean that he appeared “arrogant” to you). From my perspective, it seems that MOST lawyers have a pretty high opinion of themselves. You need look no further than this blog for evidence of that. So…why single DeLaughter out for criticism over a character trait that appears to be inherent in “lawyer-types”? Furthermore, what’s wrong with a person having a high opinion of himself? Heck, I’m not even a lawyer but I have a fairly high opinion of MYSELF. I’m quite proud of some of my accomplishments – and I’m not through yet!

  • Anderson

    However, there is NO evidence that DeLaughter shared a draft opinion with anyone.

    Which I guess is why DeLaughter pleaded guilty, over something he didn’t do.

    “Honest services,” as this blog has noted more than once, is a somewhat dodgy charge.

  • The C.L. is reporting the honoring of prosecutors of the Scruggs scandal. And Delaughter, well there’s this new problem to think of. Regarding any hope within the cosmetic appearances by the courts ie. documents stating it “whatever” went right as it went left and a few folks getting things all their way over it. The question remains. With so many thinking highly of him. Was Bobby telling Peters just how milking a cow through the crack of a fence was better. Or did Peters feel it was so much more rewarding then the regular SOP.

    Ljm, What proof? What is proof? The courts spew forth protection unto some acts by these greatly proclaimed persons of further interest. Years of intentional delays etc. Millions involved. Selective Political actions. And thoughts on the states future. DeLaughter is an actor on the stage of life in the state of MS. If I were able to dream anymore. I’d see him in cosmetic makeup with Mr.ED. milking a cow through the crack in a fence around my house as justice Peters out with a somewhat dodgy charge.

  • Anderson

    If I were able to dream anymore

    Robert seems to’ve found a workable substitute.

  • Tim

    SoundandFury. I think you need some help or at least a big drink!!

  • OxBloodAxe

    I would read SoundandFury’s book as well. Best description of the case I’ve read yet.

  • DeltaLawMama

    Are these rockheads just Scruggs deadenders for whom denial is a river in Egypt?

  • NoMiss

    This much of SoundandFury’s description is accurate.

    ED PETERS: “Now he is just another slick bastard who turned Judas on his friend to save his own butt. It is now apparent that Peters will milk his neighbor’s cow through a crack in the fence.”

    TRENT LOTT: “Trent not only are you slick you are lucky as well….”

  • Does the book mention Cedric Willis at all? I know Cedric, and what the criminal justice system put him through is horrible and very hard to forgive. He, too, might have gotten to be a “devoted family man” if he hadn’t had to spend all of his twenties locked up in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

  • Rob head

    I believe I will wait for Curtis Wilkie’s book.

  • Robert

    “Horrible and hard to forgive” That’s just about the way the whole deal goes, making the ” devoted family man ” something from the pass. You must care for your family but the courts make it impossible to do it well. MS. justice system is a dog eat dog world with little to do regarding actual law. There are some arrogant crazy people out there with friends and family. Stay low out of their sights. What happens to a persons education of law went they get to the real world anyway. Bravery, Honor, Justice doesn’t stand a chance against an organized bunch of crooks. And why are everyday citizens putting up with it when in time of war they are the ones doing all the fighting and dying.

    Why aren’t we dropping these folks dishonest to our country in a hot LZ. Let them gain an understanding.

  • NMC

    Tom Head, pretty much everything in the book except the inside stuff from Dawson and some of the prosecutor-side details about the Minor case are done at the billboard/headline level–

    DeLaughter== Beckwith! Movie! Peters is his mentor!

    No mention of what exactly he did as a prosecutor other than Beckwith, or explanation of exactly how the deal with Peters worked. There are a lot of details out in the public forum that aren’t in there.

  • Disgusted

    You might want to check with some of Mr. DeLaaughter’s past associates before you decide that he’s a “good family man”, honest, and “not arrogant”. He has a propensity to take care of himself and he really doesn’t care about anybody else.

  • I think there are two elements to the Minor/Scruggs/Peters/DeLaughter thing: the Minor/Scruggs aspect of it, which is based on the idea that lawyers are corrupt, tort reform was needed, Democratic lawyers needed to be hammered because they were milking the system, etc.; and the Peters/DeLaughter aspect of it, which is a more bipartisan scandal and deals with cases in which people’s lives were destroyed for no good reason, the criminal justice system abused, and civil liberties (for all of us) put at risk by a system of racial and economic injustice. The former story bores me a little as it gets more esoteric and personality-driven as it unfolds; the latter is one that really needs to be blown wide open, partly because it’s never really been told, partly so that some cases can be retried.

  • NMC

    Tom:

    Interesting point. A couple of responses:

    1) Lange and Dawson really don’t use their book for a political point about tort reform– much. It’s more more an attempt to tell the story, although the conclusions Lange wants to draw about Minor are about plainitffs lawyer abuses to a degree.

    2) The first version you cite is a cartoon, and the second insufficient to tell the whole story. Scruggs is an interesting figure in this, not for the political story, but a story about corruption. And Peters/DeLaughter is even more so. Some of this asks the same questions asked by Pen Warren’s All the King’s Men, about ends and means in politics, and come out exactly where Pen Warren did– that you can’t know how it will turn out, that it’s ulimately wrong to use corrupt means. (But also leave hovering the same questions– and will the hospital/bridge get built?)

    The way corruption worked in Wilson is a great story. The story of how Scruggs presented himself to the world, versus what he was, is a great story. Presenting it as a downfall as both Lange and Curtis Wilkie (title: Fall Of The House of Zues) apparently do is not as interesting to me.

  • Rodney

    “The way corruption worked in Wilson is a great story. The story of how Scruggs presented himself to the world, versus what he was, is a great story.”

    The Wilson v. Scruggs story was great because the corruption was unveiled. Why no mention of the Jowett v. Scruggs story? That dirt is buried deeply down on the Coast.

  • NoMiss

    I do know that there is a lot of dirt buried deeply down on the Coast, but I don’t know the dirt in Jowett v. Scruggs. Please tell.

  • Rodney

    Jowett is Juliet Lawson of Scruggs, Millette, Lawson, Bozeman & Dent, P.A. which was incorporated following the ouster of Luckey. Lawson was an 8% shareholder until mid 1998 and the dirt of the situation is the subsequent litigation to value her shares which should have included 8% of all tobacco fees since the tobacco litigation was settled prior to her ouster from Scruggs, Millette. Jowett v. Scruggs played out in federal, chancery and circuit courts. Ironicly, Jowett worked for both Scruggs and Minor in joint venture hearing loss litigation.
    Amazing that Kings of Tort would detail much about Luckey/Wilson litigation, but not scratch the surface of the Jowett cases. Jowett apparently got screwed out of tens of millions of dollars.

  • Rodney

    Jowett worked on the Occupational Hearing Loss litigation. She worked those cases from the late 80′s until 1997. After a likely few bushels of sweet potatoes it was adjudicated that Jowett had forgone tobacco money for a percentage of the hearing loss fees. Hearing loss cases settled for close to $20 million and Jowett got a big goose egg there, too. Judge James Backstrom was the judge over the hearing loss cases and his son, Sid, is now locked up in a federal prison in Arkansas. Small world.

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