Legal Newsline, 2/17/9

Famous federal prisoner Richard “Dickie” Scruggs was expected to enter a second guilty plea related to a second Mississippi judicial bribery scheme on Feb. 10, and he did, in a dark suit and leg irons.

The stark image of Scruggs in an orange prison jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled as he left the federal courthouse in Aberdeen was a contrast of shocking proportions. The “Scruggs I” guilty plea hearing about 11 months earlier was attended by Scruggs’ private jet pilot.

Now he’s traveling via the U.S. Marshals’ service.

Once one of the wealthiest and most prominent mass tort lawyers in America, Scruggs pleaded guilty to use of the mails to further a scheme “to deprive the citizens of Mississippi of the honest services of a circuit judge.”

That judge was Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who was arraigned in the conspiracy Thursday, and pleaded not guilty to five counts.

The main currency of value to Scruggs in his immediate predicament, that of a 62-year-old man facing seven more years without parole, is knowledge of his own criminal acts and those of others, and his new-found willingness to testify.