Misdeeds at the Louisiana Windpool, Citizens Insurance

I have on occasion lamented the lack of transparency at the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association.  A visit to their website for example will not reveal the names of the governing board and very little else concerning their operations. What little I know comes from Commissioner Chaney and the occasional mention in the press.  You would think the powers that be behind insurance that costs so much yet pays so well would be proud to put their names behind the organization. I do know that David Treutel does not hide the fact he is on the windpool board. Dave, who hails from the supposed hotbed of anti-insurance land is a respected businessman and active member of the Bay-Waveland civic community. I can’t imagine he would object to being listed as a wind pool board member.

The lack of transparency has it’s bad effects.  Citizen’s insurance over in Louisiana similarly operated free from sunshine and in the dark for years.  It took a herculean effort on part of Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot to peel back the veil of secrecy to reveal what the premium dollars of the Louisiana insurance paying public was buying at Citizens. Continue reading “Misdeeds at the Louisiana Windpool, Citizens Insurance”

Laws Against Judicial Bribery and Jim Hood Redux

Some people like money, some people like power. People that like power go into politics. Me, I like money and money rents power so I get the best of both worlds. -Quote from a highly successful coast businessman to young Sop many years ago.

Early on the “Jim Hood is a crook campaign” struck me as a partisan political affair because no evidence has been produced against Mr Hood except guilt by association. One thing I’ve learned is that politicians of all stripes taking campaign ca$h from less than reputable characters is hardly new. It’s equally clear the goals of the parties to such transaction are manifestly differing; a politician lives to be re elected and ca$h is the mothers milk of that endeavor.  Donors expect their contributions to result in access though not necessarily for help in committing a crime certainly to further their interests.  While I’ll grant when the scandal hits the fan such arrangement do not look good it is also equally true that such arrangements do not imply a conspiracy between the parties in furtherance of criminal activities. In fact the more likely implication is simply the politician needed money and was willing to take it from whomever was willing to contribute. Continue reading “Laws Against Judicial Bribery and Jim Hood Redux”

Al Copeland, Fried Chicken and Courthouse Corruption

A week or so back I was reading some interesting chicken soup recipes on another blog and I chuckled as the outlanders simultaneously displayed both admiration and confusion over the 300 plus year old cultural traditions that make New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast both charming and an enigma to outsiders. In the old days, especially south of I-10 here in Mississippi we viewed ourselves as a world apart from the rest of Mississippi. In Waveland, we considered ourselves a suburb of New Orleans. Many of our Dads commuted daily to New Orleans to work; many New Orleanians has second homes or retired to Waveland, where our population would seemingly double in the Summer.

Most of our cultural traditions we hold close. For example, I never fully explained to Nowdy, for instance, that “Later” is a common substitute for “Good bye” down here. To understand the people and culture you really have to live the experience. Despite Mississippi’s own rich history of outragious politicians they seem minor league in comparison to characters like Earl Long or Leander Perez, who ruled Plaquemines and St Bernard Parishes for many years. Closure from the impacts of Perez family rule would many years later find my best friend escorting his Mom to Buras Pointe a la Hache to collect her share of the oil royalties her cajun family, like so many others, had been swindled out of by the Perez family.

This morning we learn of the passing of another cultural icon, Al Copeland. Al was equal part fried chicken king, speed boat racer, serial spouse and modern day Kris Kringle (not to be confused with Mr. Bingle 😉 ). His name was also associated with judicial bribery long before it became fashionable in Mississippi. Continue reading “Al Copeland, Fried Chicken and Courthouse Corruption”

Schema of Judge Lackey trumps any meme about his conduct

Any meme suggesting Judge Henry Lackey may be something other than a pillar of judicial integrity is more likely a different schema of Judge Lackey.

A schema (pl. schemata) is a mental structure that represents some aspect of the world… People use schemata to organize current knowledge and provide a framework for future understanding…

However, schemata can influence and hamper the uptake of new information (proactive interference), such as when existing stereotypes, giving rise to limited or biased discourses and expectations (prejudices), may lead an individual to ‘see’ or ‘remember’ something that has not happened because it is more believable in terms of his/her schema:

Schema is a theory of learning – therefore, schemata are either taught or caught. In the case of Judge Lackey as the hero of USA v Scruggs, the schema was both taught and caught.

New information that falls within an individual’s schema is easily remembered and incorporated into their world view. However, when new information is perceived that does not fit a schema, many things can happen. The most common reaction is to simply ignore or quickly forget the new information. This can happen on a deep level — frequently an individual does not become conscious of or even perceive the new information. However, when the new information cannot be ignored, existing schemata must be changed. Continue reading “Schema of Judge Lackey trumps any meme about his conduct”

Laws Against Judicial bribery, Justice and Jim Hood

Here’s an “aha moment” to start the week.  HB1108 – a bill making judicial bribery illegal in the State – according to the Sun Herald is on it’s way to the Governor.

As he stood at the podium Thursday to present a House bill making bribing a judge a felony, Senate Judiciary Chairman Joey Fillingane wasn’t sure what the current law said.

After Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, asked the question, Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said he thought it was a misdemeanor to bribe a judge and decided to look it up.

But he found there were no state laws against judicial bribery.

Thinking back to the right wing based non stop Jim Hood bashing in the aftermath of the Judicial Bribery scandal revelations, it should come as no surprise that the often repeated calls for a state prosecution never asked a basic but very important question. Is bribing a judge against the law in Mississippi? Evidently it was not. Continue reading “Laws Against Judicial bribery, Justice and Jim Hood”

The Real National Legal Scandal Buried in the Scruggs Saga Publicity

Once again Sam Friedman has written an excellent post to his blog on his observations about the insurance industry “trifecta” of losing their arch nemeses Elliot Spitzer, Dickie Scruggs and Melvyn Weiss in the space of a week. Though Cowboy won’t like this I’ve used one of his old labels for this post, “Crooks in Gucci Suits” because the shoe fits.

While Dickie Scruggs gained fame as the public face of the affiliated law group that took down big tobacco it was actually Ron Motley in South Carolina that was the heavy lifter in the group. It is easy to confuse being the public face for top dog but the associated PR from being the front man also put a big target on Mr. Scruggs, from lawyers here in Mississippi who envied his success to the business community who view trial lawyers in general as Satan incarnate. When I think about those at the pinnacle of their professions I am sometimes reminded of the famous John Lord Acton quote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Of course my life experience differs from painting “great” men with such a broad stroke as few of us are truly bad, even fewer absolutely good. Most are a mix of good and bad, even Dickie Scruggs and Joey Langston. In Melvyn Weiss’s case being in the background meant the publicity with his guilty plea would not be as great.  However, his transgressions far exceed “corruptly influencing” a small time country judge from BF North Mississippi as we’ll soon see. Continue reading “The Real National Legal Scandal Buried in the Scruggs Saga Publicity”

Zach’s Plea documents – this you’ve got to see!

Zach waived indictment on misprision of felony and entered his Plea on a bill of Information. Here is a transcript of the hearing.

The felony he witnessed and did not report as soon as possible – the crime – took place on or about November 1 according to the Information.

In other words, Balducci was wired for the crime his father and Sid Backstrom pled guilty to last week – a crime our legal system defines as bribery. Is that the right word to use when a judge asks for money?

Breaking: Zach Scruggs Pleads Guilty

Reportedly Zach Scruggs has plead to the charge of Misprision of felony. More details as they develop.

Update:

Here is the breaking news C-L Story:

OXFORD — Oxford lawyer Zach Scruggs — the son of Dickie Scruggs, Mississippi’s wealthiest trial lawyer — pleaded guilty today to failing to report a felony in connection with a judicial bribery scheme involving his father. Continue reading “Breaking: Zach Scruggs Pleads Guilty”

Buying the Judicial Process: Was Dickie Scruggs Simply Following the State Farm Model?

I was catching up with my reading on Sam Friedman’s blog and found his piece on Dickie Scruggs one of the more even handed blog treatments of this subject I have run across online. All the more interesting is that Friedman is an insurance guy and frankly is the last place one would expect to find the balance on this subject sought by Steve Eugster at Wikiscruggs. The reason Mr. Eugster has not found balance is because he has not looked in the right places.

Bellesouth for example was run off the anti-Scruggs/Jim Hood blogs because she dared to disagree with the party lines but neither fairness or balance were the goals at the sites where Belle previously posted. The reason I’ve always enjoyed reading Friedman is his even handed treatment of the subject matter; you can learn about the insurance business and not be subject to the hidden agendas of aspiring authors or non stop legal practice marketing and the industry pandering it entails.

So after Mr Friedman had his say on Dickie Scruggs the first comment to his entry from Insured Consumer was eye catching. Continue reading “Buying the Judicial Process: Was Dickie Scruggs Simply Following the State Farm Model?”