Some notes on the Scruggs sentencing letters

There are over 400 letters. Most are positive– there are a few negative, although in very measured terms. One of the most eloquent negative letters is a handwritten one from a retired Oxford police officer (now a blacksmith) who explains that this is not a case where the defendants were economically or otherwise disadvantaged, and states how serious the crime is. The positive letters are pretty standard: most accept the gravity of the offense and guilt, but try to explain positive things they have seen about the various defendants over the years. If I don’t talk much about the content of a letter, it is because it was one of the “standard” ones.

The letter that goes to the greatest extreme is the one from Chancellor Khayat, which is on Ole Miss letterhead. Khayat wrote: “No doubt you are receiving many letters of support for Dick Scruggs, and I enthusiastically join that group.” He stated that he has known Scruggs since he was 15, and based on that knowledge, Scruggs is a “remarkable human being and truly extraordinary. He is smart, kind, loyal, compassionate, and generous.” The letter states that in Scruggs cases, his interest “was always the public good and in each instance his involvement was morally based. Although he derived great personal benefit from his success, the more important outcome was the benefit received by thousands of claimants. …” It goes on: “Throughout his audlt life he has been a model citizen, family man, community supporter and active participant in his church. He and his wife Diane are clearly among the finest people I have known.” It closes: “It in my belief that any time he spends being incarcerated is an absolute waste of great deal of talent and ability.”

The oddest thing in any of the letters: One correspondent (favorable) wrote of Dickie Scruggs: “I am reminded in making this request of the life of Saint Paul, who prior to his conversion experience experience on the road to Damascus…”

The I’m-really-not-sure-I’d-have-said-that award goes to C. Stevens Seale At Wise Carter. “I worked for Senator for Senator Lott as Chief Counsel on his Majority Leader Staff.” In that capacity “I coordinated all federal judicial nominations and confirmations for Senator Lott” He goes on to suggest a case of mistaken identity: “The Zach Scruggs I know is not the Zach Scruggs who plead guilty to the offenses in your court. Therefore, I can only speak about the Zach I know…”

Pete Boone, the Ole Miss athletic director, brings back memories of the day Scruggs was indicted, leaving stuck the plane that was supposed to carry the new coach back to Arkansas. Boone notes that Scruggs’s jet was available “for coaching searches.” “He has never recommended a head coach, but was simply there to support the administration’s decision.” This was a part of a fair number of letters from people connected to the university, including law school dean Sam Davis (who described in detail how he knew the Scruggses and why he thought well of them, in measured terms). One was Curtis Wilkie, the journalist and journalism professor who has contracted to write a book about Scruggs. He states he interviewed him in 1998, and found him accessible and forthright. He said he is fond of Dickie and Diane. “Their presence in Oxford has enhanced the town—just as many others who went to school at Ole Miss and returned, years later, have helped transform the place. They are full-fledged residents who make a major contribution to Oxford.” He says he looks forward to the day Dickie returns to the community.

NMC @ FOLO
6/25/8