Curtis Wilke: author of “Zeus” – and a man with many friends

The author is a friend of scruggs: No? How does that play out in the book?

Russell asked and I promised to answer.  Truth is that Wilke answers Russell’s first question in a two-page “Author’s Note” at the end of the book acknowledging his friends :

Dick Scruggs is my friend.

So are many other characters with roles on all sides of the political, civil and criminal conflicts in this book.

Wilke is a highly regarded professional journalist whose fidelity to the ethical standard of unbiased reporting, in my opinion, is only questioned by those who want him to tell the story the way they see it.  Russell’s questions are a different matter.  He simply wants to know such things as Wilke counts both Dick Scruggs and John Hailman among those he lists as his friends:

John Hailman, who triggered the investigation against Scruggs, shared an office suit with me…after he retired from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Russell also asked how Wilke’s friendship with Scruggs played out in the book – and that I answer by pointing out the evidence of balance, not bias, in a 30-page, chapter-by-chapter of listing of Wilke’s sources. He interviewed Dick Scruggs but he also interviewed a host of others with a different perspective including Charles Merkel, Grady Tollison, Joey Langston, John Hailman,  U.S.Attorney Jim Greenlee.  Wilke even interviewed Tom Dawson, the federal prosecutor who later co-authored “the other book”, Kings of Tort.

In the end, the book played out just like the story – and, at last, some of Oxford’s dirty little secrets are out.

Absolutely amazing – What you can learn reading Wilkie’s “Fall of the House of Zeus”

In an interview with Tupelo journalist Patsy Brumfield appearing on Sunday’s NEMS360.com, “Zeus” author Curtis Wilke said,

“There were any number of subplots in the book that could be developed into bigger stories. I chose to concentrate on the Johnny Jones suit and the approach to Judge Lackey in order to keep a strong focus on one case. So Scruggs II, as the prosecutors called it, the case that sent Bobby DeLaughter to prison, does not get a full treatment in “Zeus.”

Wilke’s snapshot of Scruggs II, however, is more than sufficient for readers to see the big picture of the case and the influence it had on the outcome of Scruggs I.  A pretty picture it is not but it confirmed what had previously been rumored:  the legal team  representing Scruggs, Scruggs and Backstrom held a “mini-mock trial…to evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case” – an exercise described on pages 293-294 as producing “unhappy results”:

“the defense…[of the charges related to the bribery of Judge Lackey]…had been overwhelmed  by the introduction of the second case….[the alleged bribery of Judge DeLaughter]…and the suggestion that Scruggs had a history of bribing judges.” (pg. 294)

Allegations of the bribery of Judge DeLaughter first surfaced in the Grand Jury testimony of Tim Balducci:

“Balducci’s information not only imperiled Langston and Peters, it exposed Scruggs to a second charge of bribing a judge.  This opened the door for the government to use the 404(b) provision to show that Scruggs had a predilection for criminal behavior.” (page 264)

However, during a hearing on the Scruggs motion to dismisss Scruggs I charges against Scruggs, Scruggs and Backstrom, attorney John Keker had a brief opportunity to cross-examine Balducci and “pounced on inconsistencies”: Continue reading “Absolutely amazing – What you can learn reading Wilkie’s “Fall of the House of Zeus””

Highly qualified Parish Attorney provides opportunity for John Young to “walk the talk” of good government

Maybe, just maybe, Phelps-Dunbar thought the firm could make another trip to the well in Jefferson Parish unnoticed.  After all, “times are hard all over” – and, in Jefferson Parish, they’re needlessly hard for want of a highly qualified Parish Attorney independent of any interest other than the best interest of Parish taxpayers.

Hopefully, the newly elected Parish President, John Young, has noticed how easily one can connect the dots from legal gymnastics like Phelps Dunbar’s outrageous motion to USA Lenten’s formal request for the retention and preservation of Parish documents.

If Young intends to deliver the “good government” he promised Jefferson Parish voters, he’ll connect the dot from Lenten’s letter to the imperative of retaining the most qualified candidate for the position of Parish Attorney:

It’s a ‘Bermudan’ day in the neightborhood…Paige St John at the Herald Tribune exposes why ‘buying Bermuda’ is like being hooked on crack.

Is Paige St John at the Herald Tribune a member of the Slabbed Nation?  Let them eat cake indeed Mikey.

The new Florida norm are carriers like ACA Home, a tiny St. Petersburg home insurer started after 2005 with funding in part from a Bermuda reinsurer.

ACA Home has no employees and pays an affiliate, American Strategic, to run its business.

Financial filings show reinsurers take 86 cents of every premium dollar ACA collects – $9 million of the $10.5 million it collected in 2009.

The cost for turning over almost all of its risk is high. ACA pays as much as 33 cents for $1 of protection against the most likely kind of storms, the equivalent of paying $66,000 a year to insure a house worth $200,000. Continue reading “It’s a ‘Bermudan’ day in the neightborhood…Paige St John at the Herald Tribune exposes why ‘buying Bermuda’ is like being hooked on crack.”

YOUNG ALERT!!!! If you destroy the pubic record we’ll break your leg capice?

We just got this from the Prez himself.   :mrgreen:

Further, due to the ever expanding investigations by State and Federal authorities into various governmental and private practices involving the Parish of Jefferson the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana has requested that the Parish suspend its normal Retention Schedule/Disposal practices…

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From the Cerebral Wing of the Slabbed Nation: President Obama, The Peter Principle, Crooks and Liars.

New York Times columnist Frank Rich has encapsulated literally years of posts here on Slabbed regarding the financial crash of 2008 and explains why Team Obama is regarded as an utter failure by the American public.  As a reader commented via email to me with the link, (this column is) “Something that you could have authorship of.”  Rich lays out the case both against Team Obama and Team GOP.  The bottom line is Wall Street owns the GOP 100% and the Dems about 85%. What a great choice we have as the wealthy elites continue to drain the treasury dry and run the country further in debt. Here are a few snippets:

The reasons for his failure to reap credit for any economic accomplishments are a catechism by now: the dark cloud cast by undiminished unemployment, the relentless disinformation campaign of his political opponents, and the White House’s surprising ineptitude at selling its own achievements. But the most relentless drag on a chief executive who promised change we can believe in is even more ominous. It’s the country’s fatalistic sense that the stacked economic order that gave us the Great Recession remains not just in place but more entrenched and powerful than ever.

No matter how much Obama talks about his “tough” new financial regulatory reforms or offers rote condemnations of Wall Street greed, few believe there’s been real change. That’s not just because so many have lost their jobs, their savings and their homes. It’s also because so many know that the loftiest perpetrators of this national devastation got get-out-of-jail-free cards, that too-big-to-fail banks have grown bigger and that the rich are still the only Americans getting richer.

This intractable status quo is being rubbed in our faces daily during the pre-election sprint by revelations of the latest banking industry outrage, its disregard for the rule of law as it cut every corner to process an avalanche of foreclosures. Clearly, these financial institutions have learned nothing in the few years since their contempt for fiscal and legal niceties led them to peddle these predatory mortgages (and the reckless financial “products” concocted from them) in the first place. And why should they have learned anything? They’ve often been rewarded, not punished, for bad behavior. Continue reading “From the Cerebral Wing of the Slabbed Nation: President Obama, The Peter Principle, Crooks and Liars.”

On the outside looking in at

The release of Curtis Wilke’s book on the “rise and ruin” of Dick Scruggs, “The Fall of the House of Zeus”, has reopened discussion of a subject I addressed in a June 5, 2008 post,  On the outside looking in at “the perspective of honest lawyers”.

As someone who is two-plus years older and still not a lawyer, I remain on the “outside looking in” – although, definitely, both “older and wiser” on “the perspective of honest lawyers” in terms of the anger they feel at Dick Scruggs for tarnishing their profession.  Like all growth, growing “older and wiser” was painful at times.  However, the aches and pains of aging paled to the heartache I felt while gaining wisdom from the anger of  “honest lawyers”.

Simply stated, not all who make the claim are “honest lawyers” but the truly honest are easily identified.  “Honest lawyers” also express anger toward the system of justice that failed in so many ways.  They rage and rail about the “good ole boy network” that closed rank to protect Judge Lackey and remained silent about the government’s conduct.  Honest lawyers seek no advantage and decry a system that viewed Grady Tollison’s contact with Judge Lackey with a closed eye.  Honest lawyers trade on their skill, have no connections to tout, and never ever toot their own horn in public.

Consequently, the belief expressed in my closing statement is one I believe even more today than when I hit “publish”:

To the whatever extent honest lawyers have not been honest people – fair and just in their treatment of all involved in USA v Scruggs and the Katrina insurance cases – they have corrupted the legal system as much, if not more, than those they blame.

My archived post follows: Continue reading “On the outside looking in at”