It’s bad enough and sad enough to read the sorry story of the greed of tort-king “Dickie” Scruggs. The evidence and the transcripts was, of course, damning.
It was really nauseating, however, to read the absurd assertion by John Keker, his lawyer, that Mr. Scruggs was innocent and that the “prosecutors have concocted a ‘manufactured crime’ in which his client had no part” (“A Lawyer’s Trials: Tort King’s Path to Bribery Charge,” page one, March 14). So, according to Mr. Keker, the prosecutors could freely be accused of trying to frame an innocent man.
All Mr. Keker should have said was that his client had pleaded not guilty and that the matter would proceed to trial.
One assumed that when Mr. Keker made factual assertions he was accurately reporting what Mr. Scruggs had told him, since he presumably knew Mr. Scruggs’s side of the story through lengthy interviews under the protection of the attorney-client privilege.
Then we learned, a few hours later, that Mr. Scruggs was guilty all along. Either Mr. Keker knew this or he was ignorant.
Why lawyers in criminal-defense cases feel compelled to make factual assertions about their clients’ innocence, facts which they couldn’t possibly know, is beyond me.
Every day these lawyers appear on television and in the papers repeating the ridiculous alibis of their clients, not as their clients’ legal positions but as facts, only to be ultimately made foolish by a plea or a trial.
Innocent or guilty, a lawyer should retain his dignity and that of his client, if possible.
Felix M. Phillips
Attorney at Law