Bribery has been a central topic here at Legal Schnauzer, and now we actually have a prominent attorney confessing to the crime.
Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, who joined Paul Minor as perhaps the two most well known trial attorneys in Mississippi, has pleaded guilty to bribery charges. Scruggs, the brother-in-law of former U.S. Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), was charged with conspiring to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey in a dispute over attorney's fees in a massive insurance settlement following Hurricane Katrina.
The folo blog is the place to turn for information and reaction about the Scruggs case. You can read folo's comprehensive coverage here.
Coverage from the Jackson-Clarion Ledger is available here.
Los Angeles Times reporters Richard Fausset, Jenny Jarvie, and Henry Weinstein have probably the definitive story on the Scruggs guilty plea. Their coverage is available here.
What exactly is bribery? Check out our "Bribery: A Primer" post here.
We noted in a previous post the connections--and the differences--between the Scruggs case and the Don Siegelman and Paul Minor cases. From reading news reports, it appears a true quid pro quo was at hand in the Scruggs case--a plan to pay a judge in return for a ruling favorable to Scruggs.
We have shown that no such agreement was present in the Minor case, and while we have no transcript for the Siegelman case, there is reason to question whether such a "something-for-something" agreement was present there.
In fact, we know that U.S. Judge Henry Wingate, contrary to clear federal law, did not even require a quid pro quo in his jury instructions for the Minor case. And U.S. Judge Mark Fuller, in his memorandum opinion to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, indicated that he probably did not make it clear in his jury instructions that a quid pro quo was required in the Siegelman case.
Press reports indicate that evidence in the Scruggs case included computer e-mails and recorded conversations. I've seen no reports that such evidence was presented in the Siegelman or Minor cases.
So why again are Don Siegelman and Minor defendants Paul Minor, Wes Teel, and John Whitfield in federal prison?
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that Scruggs faces a maximum five-year prison sentence.