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?”

Zach’s jonesing for justice – what about Jones?

The James hearing scheduled for tomorrow may not be the end for Dickie’s boy Zach but tomorrow he’s Zach the man – jonesing for justice.

USA v Scruggs began last November but the story behind the case began with another man – jonesing for revenge and using the court as his weapon – John Jones. Continue reading “Zach’s jonesing for justice – what about Jones?”

James Hearing for Zach set for tomorrow

Judge Biggers issued an Order for the James hearing today.   The Defense filed a renewed Motion to exclude other crime evidence and a Response to the Government’s Motion to release the taint team evidence. h/t to folo.

A good time to reflect on how this all started – Look for the jonesing for justice followup post later this evening.

Senate passes Resolution supporting HR3121

More insurance news, Sop – Senator Gollott had 21 co-sponsors for his Resolution.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 527, authored by Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, urges Congress to adopt the bill that is pending before the Senate, which would extend the National Flood Insurance Program to include wind damage and other coverage. Taylor has been pushing the plan hard.

Gollott pointed to the slow recovery in the hard hit areas of South Mississippi where private sector insurance troubles have slowed rebuilding as proof government issued multi-perils coverage is needed.

“I’m really going to push this because we direly need it on the Coast,” Gollott said.

Gollott said he plans to send the resolution to officials in every state, as well as every member of the U.S. Senate.

Read the full story here and the Resolution here.

Miscellaneous other before I disappear back to “Taxland”

This has been one of those weeks insurance companies would love to forget. Since November 2007, Washington State voters overwhelmingly passed R-67, the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, Florida is trying to bar Allstate from doing business there, two executives at insurance giant Marsh and McLennan have been found guilty of price fixing, five executives at AIG and General Re were found guilty of fraud, Allstate was fined the $250,000 maximum in Louisiana for bait and switch policy cancellations and the GAO has exposed massive flaws and conflicts of interest in NFIP.

This week the pace has picked up with California finding Allstate has been overcharging for auto insurance there, Michigan’s legislature is moving to stop the use of credit scores in auto insurance underwriting, Senators Cochran and Wicker join Senators Landrieu and Vitter in placing holds on industry backed S. 2284, and Florida is moving to suspend American General Life Insurance’s license for violating Florida’s “Freedom to Travel Act”.  All in all this is not shaping up to be a good week for big insurance.

In other news AM called me and asked for help in publicizing Gene Taylor’s campaign website, especially the insurance reform page.  Gene was fighting for us on insurance issues long before it became fashionable in certain GOP circles but he still needs our help to have multi peril insurance enacted for us.  Please visit Gene’s website and click on the “Click here Become a Partner in Insurance Reform” hyperlink on the right side. Lobbying the Senate is the key; Gene and coastal people in this country need your help to make that promise a reality.

Clarion Ledger Editorial Reveals Behind the Scenes Politicing

I read today’s Clarion Ledger Op-Ed in support of HR 3121 and found some very interesting tidbits buried in the piece most notably that Senator’s Cochran and Wicker have joined Louisiana Senators Landrieu and Vitter in placing a senatorial hold on S. 2284, the re-authorization bill for the National Flood Insurance Program. As we previously noted, S. 2284 does not bring structural change to NFIP and does not contain the multi peril wind provisions found in HR 3121. While the old saying “better late than never” certainly applies to Senator Cochran and his newly found zeal to represent the interest of his coastal constituents we do appreciate both he and Senator Wicker joining the fight to solve our coastal insurance crisis. Continue reading “Clarion Ledger Editorial Reveals Behind the Scenes Politicing”