Posted by Sarah Amandolare to FindingDulcinea
On Friday, June 27, 2008, in an Oxford, Miss., courtroom crowded with supporters, Richard Scruggs was handed the maximum sentence for his crime—five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
His class-action suit against State Farm Insurance for denying Hurricane Katrina claimants was complicated by shifting alliances among other trial lawyers involved in the case. One of these led to his indictment in November 2007.
In an attempt to win a $26.5 million dispute related to the insurance case, Scruggs, his son, Zach, and law partner Sidney Backstrom were implicated in a conspiracy to bribe Judge Henry Lackey.
Scruggs is well known for his prior cases against Big Tobacco and for asbestos-related lawsuits, and has been recognized for formulating “his own brand of litigation, entrepreneurial and boldly speculative,” said a New Yorker profile of Scruggs and the case against him.
Supporters maintain Scruggs’s innocence despite his guilty plea. Some insiders blame Tim Balducci, a lawyer who offered to pay Lackey and who obtained evidence against Scruggs for the FBI.
Meanwhile, friends and supporters, including brother-in-law Trent Lott, are left wondering why a man with so much money and influence would resort to bribery.
Said one Scruggs ally, “Dick didn’t get where he got by asking permission. He got where he got by counting on asking for forgiveness, if he needed to.”
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