Alan Lange

For Immediate Release                            
Pediment Publishing/360.687.6731                                

Kings of Tort available on December 2nd

The amazing story behind tort magnate Dickie Scruggs’s judicial bribery scandal is presented by Pediment Publishing. Kings of Tort is the authoritative work on documenting this nationally known story and the relatively unknown 25 year history behind it. The book will be made available in retail outlets throughout the country on December 2nd. More Information including advance ordering of the book is available at

Kings of Tort chronicles the sordid tale of judicial bribery and political intrigue in Mississippi, birthplace of the tobacco litigation and long known as one of the most tort-friendly jurisdictions in the nation. It features the story of Dickie Scruggs, who was largely credited with bringing down Big Tobacco in the early 1990s. From his ascent to a net worth of nearly a billion dollars to his seemingly unfathomable downfall stemming from his role in attempting to corrupt two local judges by improperly influencing the outcome of cases, the book documents how those in Scruggs’s own trusted circle of tort barons turned on him and cooperated with federal authorities. It also shows the political influence he wielded with judges, attorneys general, and even his own brother-in-law, former US Senator Trent Lott.

The Dickie Scruggs judicial bribery case has been covered extensively by the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, New York Times, LA Times, The Clarion-Ledger, Sun Herald and dozens of other Mississippi and national media outlets. Scruggs’s story during his meteoric rise through the Big Tobacco litigation was documented on PBS Frontline, ABC’s 20/20, and CBS’s 60 Minutes. Eventually, the 60 Minutes story became the subject of a movie, “The Insider,” featuring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.

The book also chronicles the legal bribery story of Scruggs confidante and tobacco lawsuit partner Paul Minor, son of Mississippi political columnist Bill Minor. He was convicted, along with the two judges he improperly influenced, and is currently serving an 11 year prison sentence. Minor is currently fighting his conviction on appeal from prison through his attorney Abbe Lowell, who defended former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial.

Kings of Tort is an engaging read that examines the power of these tort barons and the unmistakable pattern of how corporate defendants were trapped in what Scruggs called “magic jurisdictions” and subject to coordinated political, criminal and civil pressure to produce enormous settlements. It’s a must read for those interested in the legal profession, politics or just a fascinating human story of greed and hubris. Continue reading “Alan Lange”

One man’s convicted felon is another’s father, son

Nowdy, those other blogs are eating your lunch on the Delaughter story.

Maybe so, concerned reader, but I was lost in other thoughts; and, frankly, just not hungry.

Some years ago, I was the guest speaker for a Mother’s Day luncheon held at what was then called the “women’s prison” – a mother talking with other mothers about our shared concerns. I wasn’t hungry then, either.  In fact, as I recall, I started losing my appetite when the first big metal door locked behind me.

Locked doors, however, do not frighten me as much as closed minds.

Stone walls do not a prison make nor iron bars a cage…

I note those who decry the notion of “political prisoners” seem to be, in many cases, prisoners of their own politics – and I hunger for the justice of a vigorous public conversation about judicial bribery and the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Yearger (June 18, 2009): Continue reading “One man’s convicted felon is another’s father, son”

SLABBED Daily: July 30 all politics is local

With the Washington Post reporting Rove Had Heavier Hand in Prosecutor Firings Than Previously Known, today’s SLABBED Daily looks at the firing of federal prosecutors from the perspective of all politics is local.

…Rove described himself as merely passing along complaints by senators and state party officials to White House lawyers…

The story focuses on three of the nine U.S. Attorneys fired in 2006 – a group that includes Missouri’s Todd Graves, known to SLABBED readers as counsel for Zach Scruggs in the case that became USA v Scruggs, Scruggs, and Backstrom.

Graves, the U.S. attorney in Missouri, was removed after staff members of Sen. Christopher S. “Kit” Bond (R) repeatedly complained to political aides and lawyers in the White House, according to interviews and the inspector general. Rove, who had done political consulting work for Bond earlier in their careers, said in the interview that he had become aware of the turmoil on the eve of President Bush’s visit to the state.

Graves brings the story home; but Dunn Lampton actually brought it closer.  Lampton, who until his recent resignation had been U.S. Attorney for Mississippi’s Southern District  since 2000, was once slated for a pink slip – and that brings us full circle to Rove’s testimony suggesting all politics is local. Continue reading “SLABBED Daily: July 30 all politics is local”

Your circle of acquaintances gets larger but your circle of friends becomes smaller – with Judge Benge and Judge Delaughter on my mind

“While I admit that I tried to influence her decision in the Demma matter, I did not believe at the time that I had succeeded, and I still do not believe that Judge Benge was influenced,” Bodenheimer said in an affidavit filed with the state Supreme Court.

As I was reading the Times Picayune update of the story reported in the 20th SLABBED Daily, it struck me how similar the case against Judge Benge is to the charges Judge Delaughter faces.  Sop saw it, too, and sent me an email.  The “other parties” in Delaughter’s case appear to be in rehearsal for his upcoming trial!

In Benge’s case, however, the “other party” has come forward on her behalf.  Bodenheimer says his attempt to sway Judge Benge in injury case failed: Continue reading “Your circle of acquaintances gets larger but your circle of friends becomes smaller – with Judge Benge and Judge Delaughter on my mind”

duck, duck, goose – Balducci taps Delaughter

Balducci, who was questioned as part of the unrelated Eaton v. Frisby lawsuit, is expected to testify against DeLaughter, who goes on trial Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court in Oxford on corruption charges. DeLaughter has insisted he is innocent, following the law in his rulings.

The sweet potato king is back in the news – exactly how seems to be the question:

Contacted for comment about the deposition, DeLaughter’s attorney, Thomas Durkin of Chicago, remarked, “I find it very curious how a sealed document ended up in the hands of the press, and it’s more proof to me that money is the root of all evil. People will do a lot of things and say a lot of things to protect their money. Someone is obviously attempting to poison the jury venire.”

Even more curious than a sealed document ending up in the hands of the press is the difference between the babbling Balducci in the recorded conversations of Scruggs I and the standard-English speaking witness he became as a witness.

And, then, there’s the matter of the Motion to Dismiss the Indictment for Government Misconduct Occurring Before the Grand Jury. Continue reading “duck, duck, goose – Balducci taps Delaughter”

I tawt I taw a puddy tat – but there’s nobody here but Joey Langston

Judge Bobby DeLaughter’s devolution into USA v DeLaughter began when Joey Langston punched his ticket to the best plea agreement ever by confessing to the crime of bribery-by-flattery of Judge Delaughter.

SLABBED reported on the benefit of Langston plea agreement when two of his alleged co-flatters reported to prison for their role in USA v Scruggs.

Langston was sentenced last December for a Jan. 15 report, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office got Judge Michael Mills to delay his imprisonment until March 16 so he could continue helping with some investigations. However, prosecutors apparently renewed their request, sources say, and asked the court to postpone Langston’s report a few more weeks to keep him close as he apparently continues to cooperate with their investigations into the DeLaughter case and perhaps others.

However, that post was written on March 23 and it also reported the absence of the standard Letter to Report in Langston’s case docket – notable because he should have reported seven days earlier on the 16th and, according to information on the docket tonight, he reported on the 16th of April – and that’s Loony Tunes because a few weeks ago the BOP inmate locator showed him in transit.

It’s also Loony Tunes that there was a Motion to postpone his reporting but no Order when the Daily Journal checked on the afternoon of the 16th of March or when I sylvester2checked checked the 23rd; but, it’s on there now and dated the 11th of March with a note that the entries for both the Motion and the Order were modified on the 30th of March with no indication of how – and that’s when it struck me that Langston was popping up like Sylvester,  the Loony Tunes cat.

Sufferin’ succotash, Continue reading “I tawt I taw a puddy tat – but there’s nobody here but Joey Langston”

Dancing with the Stars – USA does no Tango with Delaughter

The dance developed in response to many cultural elements, such as the crowding of the venue…

Delaughter made his move in a set of six motions.  Yesterday the government responded with five:






Had to hang my dancing shoes up for the day; and, the last word I had from Sop suggests he had one too many chocolate bunnies.  However, one or both of us will be here later.

Justice is better than chivalry, if we cannot have both – so send Judge Owen some flowers and release Paul Minor

A member of this court has previously denied release pending appeal.

That the gentlemen on the Fifth Circuit Panel denied Paul Minor’s appeal for release as a courtesy is a bit too Middle Ages for my taste – particularly since Judge Patrica Owen is to Minor what her fellow Judge, Edith Jones, is to causation theory – a woman of ill repute.

In Court denies bond for imprisoned attorney, the Sun Herald tells the story.

Paul Minor, one of Mississippi’s most successful civil lawsuit attorneys before being sent to prison for corruption, was denied an emergency request Thursday to be released so he could be with his dying wife…

Minor has asked the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out the conviction, claiming the trial judge allowed improper jury instructions…

The three-judge panel of 5th Circuit judges denied the request for bond, pointing out that another member of the court had rejected a similar request in the past. That judge, Priscilla Owen, has since recused herself from the case.

Obviously, “recusal” means “sit in chair behind Panel and whine”. Continue reading “Justice is better than chivalry, if we cannot have both – so send Judge Owen some flowers and release Paul Minor”

5th Circuit Panel questions federal jurisdiction in USA v Minor

First, a big SLABBED welcome to Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story and an equally big thank you for including a transcript of Paul Minor’s Appeal in her post on the story.

Had the transcripts not been available, I would have been left to puzzle over the concept of subject matter jurisdiction: The power of a court to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceedings in question belong; and, 18USC.666: Theft or bribery concerning programs receiving Federal funds.

The panel of Fifth Circuit judges hearing Paul Minor’s Appeal, however, came to my rescue with a really interesting discussion of the issues.  In doing so, they not only helped this non-lawyer understand one of the controversial aspects of Minor’s case, but one that is also a factor in USA v DeLaughter and was in USA v Scruggs as well.

In his Motion for Bill of Particulars, Judge DeLaughter asked the USA to:

  • Identify with specificity the particular “state and local government” entity of which Judge DeLaughter is alleged to be an agent.
  • Identify with specificity the “government and judicial agency” that allegedly “received in a one-year period benefits in excess of $10,000 under a federal program…”

Although the question of quid pro quo was the primary focus of  DeLaughter’s Motion to Inspect Grand Jury Minutes, the underlying issue of there incorporates concerns about “666” – the shorthand reference to this section of the Code. Continue reading “5th Circuit Panel questions federal jurisdiction in USA v Minor”

Major issues raised by 5th Circuit Panel hearing Minor Appeal

Hot off the Huffington Post – A Surprise Recusal and Promising Result in Paul Minor Appeal Hearing:

A Quick Update Following Paul Minor’s Appeal Hearing (see here for background)

Paul Minor’s appeal hearing in front of the 5th Circuit court this morning started off with an unexpected surprise. Shortly before the proceedings began, Priscilla Owen, one of the three judges hearing the appeal, announced her recusal.

Owen, whom the New York Times has described as “guided by the hand of Karl Rove,” apparently took to heart Minor attorney Hiram Eastland’s letter [PDF] asking Owen to recuse herself since Rove is being investigated by Congress and the Justice Department for his possible role in targeting Minor for indictment. Owen was replaced immediately by Judge Fortunato Benavides, a Clinton appointee, adding a measure of balance to the panel, which would’ve been an all-Republican panel with Owen present.

The appeal hearing lasted just 30 minutes but produced several key indicators that appeared to favor Paul Minor’s appeal.

It’s important to remember the Fifth Circuit is looking only at issues of law – and without the feelings about Minor personally that, understandably, can color the very real legal issues involved.

Led by Judge Will Garwood, a Reagan appointee, the panel asked very thoughtful questions and seemed very receptive to the arguments raised by Minor’s attorneys and asked repeated, tough questions of the Justice Department Continue reading “Major issues raised by 5th Circuit Panel hearing Minor Appeal”