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:

the honesty of the system in which I work every day is life or death to me. Just as much as my house is. Something that undermines that is just as life-or-death to me as a wind that blows your house away. I can’t live, function, and work in a corrupt legal system…I think there are parts of this you aren’t getting because you don’t understand the perspective of honest lawyers.

Honest and written from the heart – albeit not to me – these comments stand without reference in tribute. USA v Scruggs and the Katrina insurance cases opened a window into the legal system. What those outside sometimes see when looking in has created concern about the integrity of the system as well as the judicial system, and, at times, given rise to questions about the conduct of lawyers relative to these cases.

An honest lawyer is defined by other lawyers as one who follows the rules – and, by extension, a properly functioning judicial system would do likewise. Consequently, once USA v Scruggs was filed, the perspective of honest lawyers was outrage at the idea of another lawyer earwigging or attempting to bribe a judge and insistence the system show no mercy.

In turn, this perspective was reflected in commentary and comments on weblogs, media coverage, calls for reform of the legal and judicial system, and examination of the cases identified with Scruggs – asbestos, tobacco, and Katrina insurance claims are examples that come to mind.

I understand that perspective, I just don’t share it when there is no benefit of doubt or fidelity to innocent until proven guilty. The laws of man are not set in stone. While not made to be broken, laws are to be interpreted and even changed when needed or desired.

With those thoughts in mind – and a reminder, no doubt needless at this point, that I’m not a lawyer – an honest lawyer from my perspective must also be an honest person.

Honesty is not difficult to define, and most people have a fairly consistent definition of honesty. Honesty means to be free from deceit and fraud, to be open and above board in your transactions, and to be fair and just in how you treat others.

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.

Nowdy


9 thoughts on “On the outside looking in at”

  1. Excellent post NOWDY. For we Louisiana lawyers, we too are tarnished by the likes of disgraced judges like Hunter King, Yvonne Hughes, Ronnie Bodenheimer, Alan Green, Joan Benge, and the list goes on up to the king himself, Tom Porteous, as well as the numerous lawyers featured in the weekly Supreme Court email blast that typically lists 2-3 lawyers suspended or disciplined.

    I can remember when I started as a lawyer, I honestly believed that it was a noble profession, somewhat like public service. Now, a quarter century later, I am not so jaded. Sad.

  2. You left Dick Chopin off your list IMA LOL.

    What Nowdy said then and is saying now is that there are two types of lies, those of commission and those of omission. Both are equally bad, in fact I personally regard omission that creates deception to be worse as it implies intent and malice. Such is why I have no use for David Rossmiller.

    Though I have not seen the book and I doubt I’ll read it, this much is clear: Curtis Wilkie’s book on Dick Scruggs is causing some anus puckering in certain circles.

    When Slabbed the book is released history will record Sop as being 100% certain the blog would be a rousing success from the very beginning. 😉

    sop

  3. Sop, your comment makes me wonder if a lot of people in northern MS, all over the state for that matter, aren’t starting to look like my friend after she grabbed the wrong tube and brushed her teeth with Preparation H.

    Hope the post I’m going to put up will make you want to read Wilke’s book – have it holding holding until I can correct whatever is throwing the content out of format.

    He definitely tells a story some are simply unable to hear over the roar of the self-serving version they created – but his documentation is as strong as his writing IMO.

    Bottom line is you can’t be an honest lawyer, or honest anything else, if you don’t hold everyone involved in USA Scruggs accountable. Glossing over the ethical/legal failing of everyone but Scruggs is a deception that fools no one.

  4. Excellent post, Nowdy. I can’t wait to read your next post. Meanwhile, for those interested in those “honest lawyers”, namely Tom Freeland, they can browse by my blog at bellesouth.wordpress.com to catch a glimpse of how they only peripherally believe in the system of justice we have here in the United States where facts of the case really matter, but outside the courts of law they can prevaricate and outright lie to defend their own abusive behavior.

  5. Belle despite playing a starring and somewhat infamous role in the blogging about Dick Scruggs back in the day thru today I feel safe in saying you don’t grasp the importance of what you revealed to certain interested observers and I say that as one of ’em. You have nothing to hang your head about sweet.

    sop

  6. Thanks, Sop. Back then, these lawyers used the Scruggs’s to deter everyone’s attention from their clients, the insurance industry who bilked millions of dollars from taxpayers in their effort to claim that Hurricane Katrina was not a wind storm. HA! Yeah, those honest lawyers acting all high and mighty! Indeed!

  7. Since Freeland’s name came up I’d like to add I’ve enjoyed reading his blog and at times have found it a highly insightful window into the practice of law in Mississippi.

    sop

  8. Please allow me to identify some “dishonest persons” who are also “dishonest lawyers” and part of a “corrupt legal system”. Ashton O’Dwyer will hold harmless, defend and indemnify SLABBED and its owners if any of the degenerate CRIMINALS I identify, supra, have the temerity to file suit. I aver that the following “lawyers” belong in the Penitentiary, and I am prepared to offer PROOF if any of them DARES to demand it: MICHAEL MAGNER, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, who works for Letten (SPIT!); Lemle & Kelleher (or former) lawyers ERNEST L. EDWARDS, JOSEPH “LARRY” SHEA, CHARLES R. TALLEY, ALAN H. GOODMAN, and AMY L. BAIRD (there may be “more” Lemle & Kelleher lawyers who I have not been given the opportunity to identify); CHARLES R. PLATTSMIER, JR. and GREGORY TWEED of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel; H. BURTON GUIDRY, formerly of the Louisiana Department of “Injustice”; MICHAEL KELLER and PHYLLIS GLAZER of the Louisiana Department of “Injustice”; KIM “Aunt Jemima” BOYLE and NAN ALLESANDRA of Phelps Dunbar; and PAUL B. DEAL, formerly of the Louisiana Department of “Injustice”. There are MORE, but this is a “good start”. Of course, Ashton O’Dwyer stands 1,000% behind his allegations. Ashton O’Dwyer, 6034 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, La. 70118.

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