Katrina lawyer at the eye of a storm

This week, the lawyer was indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of attempting to bribe a state judge presiding over a lawsuit involving millions of dollars in legal fees. He and four other defendants, including his lawyer son, could face up to 75 years in prison if convicted.

The news is sending shock waves throughout the legal community — and the state.

On the Mississippi coast, some of Scruggs’ clients were wondering what the news would mean for the scores of pending cases that his law group brought against their insurance carriers.

“I feel like I’m sitting on top of a barbed-wire fence,” said Lyman Cumbest, a neighbor and client of Scruggs who is suing State Farm Insurance. “I don’t know if our lawsuit will continue to be pushed through the court or not.”

Meanwhile, Scruggs’ fellow lawyers were wondering why a man of such wealth would allegedly risk so much for a quibble over a few million dollars.

“It just boggles the mind,” said Jack Denton, a trial attorney in Biloxi, Miss. “Here is a man who has had an enormous amount of success, who reached a level very few attorneys, if any, have reached. Why would he risk everything over a legal dispute over attorneys’ fees?”

Richard Fausset
LA Times