Monday, March 24, 2008

Also in the News.. Whistle Blown on Famous Lawyer

I was recently informed that Dickie Scruggs, a famous lawyer, has pleaded guilty for bribing a judge. For those of you that don't know, Dickie Scruggs is the attorney which fought against tobacco companies in the 1990's that awarded settlements close to $250 million from the industry. Currently, Scruggs is in the midst of another large case where he is representing many Katrina victims in their fight against large insurance companies. Once again, millions of dollars are at stake (yet the future of this case is unkown due to Scruggs' current situation). Scruggs is politically active and well-known in the law community.

However, this once hailed good guy has now lost his credibility. Scruggs is accused of conspiring to bribe a judge for $50,000 to influence the judge's decision on how to split $26.5 million in attorney's fees. The judge, Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey, is reported to have blown the whistle from the start. He reported the bribery to federal officials when it was first announced, then went undercover to help expose the master plan. Now, Scruggs and others have been accused and admitted to their guilt.

I highly recommend reading this article which accounts for the detailed information which I provided on this post.

I think this is a great example of a true whistleblower and I commend Judge Henry Lackey for his actions.


Blogger Kyle said...

I absolutely agree with Brad. Having stepped up from the beginning and to help bring down someone like this is heroic. Who knows how many times in big cases like these are people bribed to vote or agree with one side or the other. It is always good to hear a story like this when someone steps out and says no to what is most likely an accepted practice.

Being a judge gave such a great twist to this story. This allowed Judge Lackey to get behind the scenes. He was in a perfect situation to bring down Scruggs for most likely bigger crimes than what would have been exposed if a juror or other low level people came forward. While this is not the everyday typical whistleblower story, it is good to see someone in a position of power take a stance against such a high level of illegal activity.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Vic Simianu said...

Wow, what a story! They should make a movie out of this...

Why would Scruggs do this? In all the other whistleb blowing narratives we read, the whistle blowing itself usually led to the discovery of further corruption and faulty practices. Is that the case here, too?

If Scruggs was bribing Judge Lackey over such a petty amount, it leads me to believe that there's something more to the story. Maybe the reason why Scruggs has accummulated such wealth is partly attributed to the "good guy" visage being a complete farce. If that is the case, then Scruggs is lucky to only serve 5 years...but maybe this whistle blowing will lead to other claims against him, or other bribing lawyers. Scandals of such publicity seem to always set off a chain reaction, as we saw in the Enron scandal. However, since I'm a biotech nerd and have little knowledge of famous lawyers and attorneys, does anyone want to elaborate on whether or not Scruggs has had sketchy sitatuions before? There definitely needs to be a movie about this.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

Vic - you're not the only one that thinks a good Scruggs story would make for a great movie! The movie "The Insider" was actually about Dickie Scruggs and his case against major tobacco companies.

Kyle - I think heroic is a great word to be used for Judge Lackey. This story is a bit worrisome because it raises the question of how often this happens in our court system? I would assume this was not the first time a judge has been offered a bribe, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Does anyone think Judge Lackey should be rewarded for his actions? Could you make the argument he was simply doing his job in enforcing the judicial system? At the same time, if judges were rewarded for blowing the whistle on "bribers," do you think more would come forward?

9:34 PM  
Blogger Vic Simianu said...

I think the judge's actions will reciprocate themselves accordingly. Just as Scruggs has lost most of his legal standing, Judge Lackey's commendable actions have brought upon him much credibility. To what extent that helps in the professional setting, I can't say, but I don't think we should jump to award someone for blowing the whistle. Doing so would expend employee energy on prying for information, thus creating an inefficient work environment, and

Offering rewards for whistle blowing (I'm speaking in light of all professions now, not only the judicial system's) seems to create workplace paradox. Stumbling upon employer corruption and discovery of faulty practices is one thing, but going out of one's way to snoop and try to get "dirt" on a company seems counter-intuitive to me. If there were some sort of monetary or tangible award for acting as a whistle blower, how can an employer focus on acting in the best interest of the company, as they were hired to do? I believe whistle blowers recieve their due credibility and honor in acting out of will and determination to do what is right, as opposed to following a monetary incentive.

That being said, I agree with you, Brad, and believe that if there were some sort of reward for whistle blowing activities, more cases would arise. The question, however, is whether or not an extra incentive should factor into whistle blowing. I say no; let the laissez-faire nature of the markets expose the corruption and practices that have made the respective companies, or attorneys, profitable and unjustly competitive.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Vic Simianu said...

I apologize for my incomplete statement before:

The end of the first paragraph should've stated: " inefficient work environment, and go against the very nature of Whistle blowing."

4:56 AM  

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