Faculty members at the University of Mississippi are speaking out concerning the 5-year prison sentence Richard “Dickie” Scruggs received Friday, including how his absence will affect the university.
Associate Professor of journalism Curtis Wilkie is now working on a book about the Scruggs case.
“I know him personally and he knows that I’m doing a book on this case,” Wilkie said. “That being the case, we have never discussed his situation.”
Wilkie said that few have been as generous in contributing to the university as Scruggs has.
“He’s made a 25 million dollar commitment to the college of liberal arts’ faculty salaries,” Wilkie said. “He has given a great deal to athletics also. He has loaned his plane to the university on numerous occasions and he has donated several scholarships. He has raised money for the law school.”
Wilkie also added his own interpretation of the ongoing Scruggs case.
“My impression was simply that if Scruggs would cooperate, it may or may not have influence on his sentence. I think anyone who has followed this case knows that there is more to it,” he said.
Sam Davis, chair of the law school, said he was personally saddened for the families involved and the whole legal system.
“The vast majority of lawyers and those involved in law are honest, law-abiding citizens,” Davis said. “It will take a lot to restore the public’s confidence in the system again.”
Davis said the situation was “a bit of an enigma.”
“As Mr. Scruggs’ attorney said, it would take a Faulkner or a Percy to tell the full story,” he said. “Earwig is an archaic term that means you are going to the judge without the knowledge or permission of the other side. Talking to a judge about a case is a very old term for a very old problem, one that at times has been very serious. Until this case, law students have been saying, ‘Earwig? What is that?'”
In his letter to Judge Neal Biggers, Chancellor Robert Khayat said he knew from the outset that Scruggs was a remarkable human being.
“It is my belief that any time he spends being incarcerated is an absolute waste of a great deal of talent and ability,” Khayat wrote. “He has much to offer society and is a public-spirited person.”
Khayat said that punishment should be relative to the individual.
“A man such as Dick has been amply punished by the loss of his profession and his public statute,” Khayat said.