The Clarion-Ledger, 12/16/7

Ever since Richard Scruggs was indicted on federal conspiracy and bribery charges last month, legal eagles have asked whether a renowned lawyer who earned a reputation as the “King of Torts” would really risk his reputation, his freedom, his wealth and his career, by offering $50,000 to a judge in a small squabble over fees.

A Clarksdale lawyer, Charles Merkel Jr., spent more than a decade battling Scruggs in two fee disputes and said he still bears scars from the fight.

“It’s scorched earth with Dickie Scruggs,” said Merkel. He was sitting in a wood-paneled office featuring duck-hunting memorabilia and two framed checks representing about $17 million. They were payments that Scruggs had to disgorge to Merkel’s client – a lawyer named Alwyn Luckey who argued that Scruggs shortchanged him for work he performed on asbestos cases that made Scruggs rich.