Kings of Tort Review

Even if you’ve hardly followed Mississippi news and politics over the years, you’ll recognize most of the players in Kings of Tort (Pediment Publishing, 2009). Who hasn’t heard of Pascagoula native Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs?

For people who describe themselves as “news junkies,” there aren’t that many surprises in this book. But you’ll remember where you were when the events within took place—you’ll at least remember marveling at the newspaper headlines over the years—as name after infamous name pops up and ties together a web of corruption that was decades in the making.

Jackson businessman and blogger Alan Lange (www.yallpolitics.com) and former federal prosecutor Tom Dawson have assembled, in chronological order, the events and background which led to the downfall of not only Scruggs and his son, Zack, but fellow attorneys Paul Minor, Tim Balducci, Joey Langston, former State auditor Steve Patterson, former Hinds County District Attorney Ed Peters and former Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who successfully prosecuted Byron De La Beckwith for the murder of Medgar Evers.

Kings of Tort is a story that will make you sad, and mad. Mississippi, despite being last in many things, always leads or is among the states with the most charitable giving per capita. Those numbers are an indication that there are some very generous people in our midst.

There are also some very greedy ones, apparently. Kings of Tort will leave you a bit cynical when you hear trial attorneys talk of helping “the little guy.” It will make you wonder just how many judges out there can be bought off if the price is right.

MS Digital Daily
3/24/10