Q&A: John Grisham on the Dickie Scruggs Case

What do you think of the charges in the indictment?

I know what the basic allegations are. I read the indictment. As a former criminal defense lawyer, I started thinking about how I would defend it and started looking for gaps and holes.

Did you find any?

It’s only one side of what happened. There’s a whole lot more to the story. One thing is that there are a lot of recorded statements in the indictment but none from Dickie. There are no allegations that he delivered cash or was part of it.

But the prosecution must have evidence that is not reflected in the indictment, too.

I was in law school with Jim Greenlee (the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, the prosecutor who brought the case against Mr. Scruggs.) He’s a man of integrity and a good prosecutor and he’s not going to reveal everything. Jim and I started and finished law school together and practiced in the same small town (Southaven, MS).

He’s a good, steady prosecutor, but I also anticipate a very vigorous defense.

The trial will be closely watched.

In a situation like this I’m always reminded how quickly we abandon the presumption of innocence. There’s always such a rush to judgment. It makes a fair trial hard to get.

It’s amazing how many people involved here know one another — on both sides of this case, and in the tobacco and Katrina litigation that has made Mississippi lawyers known nationally.

Mississippi is a small place. I can’t say I anticipated a lot of what has happened in the last 15 years. And Dickie was in the middle of a lot of it. It’s a small state and because of that he (and others) have been in all these big cases and lawyers have made a lot of money.

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12/4/7