Friends, competitors, colleagues react to sentences

“It’s a sad day for the judicial system of our state,” said state Attorney General Jim Hood, among those who have benefitted in campaign contributions from Scruggs. “No one wins in such situations, but by these sentences and the earlier convictions, justice has been served. Hopefully, our system has been strengthened, not weakened, and we can move forward to better serve the citizens of Mississippi.”

The five-year sentence for Scruggs did not go “as we had hoped,” said Mike Lynn, a former general manager of the Minnesota Vikings football team and current owner of the Oxford University Club, where Scruggs is a member.

On the other hand, Charlie Merkel of Clarksdale, the attorney for Scruggs’ former law partners in lawsuits against Scruggs, said, “The judicial system made an eloquent statement” about what Scruggs did.

Merkel was among those in court when Scruggs was sentenced. He has been fighting Scruggs for 14 years, first representing Alwyn Luckey and now Bob Wilson in a dispute over attorney fees from asbestos litigation.

“Really, any personal feelings or opinion I had couldn’t do anything but detract from what (U.S. District Judge Neal) Biggers said,” Merkel said.

Biggers told Scruggs during sentencing that he was shocked when he learned about the conspiracy. He said Scruggs had violated the oath he took as a lawyer.

“Now, to me, that is more serious than a man on the street bribing a judge,” Biggers said. Because the man on the street, a party, for example, who comes into court and has a case in the court and tries to bribe a judge is not as serious as a lawyer trying to bribe a judge, because the man on the street hasn’t taken an oath; the lawyer has.”

Biggers also said Scruggs’ crime was more reprehensible in that “the justice system has made you a rich man; the court system has made you a rich man. And yet you have attempted to corrupt it.”

Clarion Ledger
6/28/8