There were women in pearls, men in seersucker — enough well-heeled Mississippians to conjure up a charity auction or summer fete.
They were crowded Friday into a small wood-paneled federal courtroom behind a long line of sober, dark-suited attorneys to watch Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs, a legendary plaintiffs’ attorney, receive a five-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in March to conspiring to bribe a judge.
“I could not be more ashamed to be where I am today, mixed up in a judicial bribery scheme,” an ashen Scruggs told District Judge Neal Biggers Jr.
“It’s a scar and a stain on my soul that will be there forever.”
Minutes later, Scruggs began to sway, and his attorney grasped his arm to steady him. The crowd gasped. A flock of prosecutors rushed to offer him a seat.
Scruggs, who became one of Mississippi’s richest and most powerful men after taking on Big Tobacco and insurance companies, sat shaking as the judge handed down the maximum sentence.