Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle Reading App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The Amazon Book Review
Check out The Amazon Book Review, our editors' fresh new blog featuring interviews with authors, book reviews, quirky essays on book trends, and regular columns by our editors. Explore now
The Scruggs Scandal has been a never-ending source of interest for Mississippians, and particularly for the members of Mississippi's legal community.
"Kings of Tort" presents the sordid facts, most already in the public record, in a coherent narrative told from the prosecutor's point of view.
People who have closely followed this scandal for a while will find little new information; those new to the scandal will likely be amazed. It is quite a story.
The book actually attempts to cover two unrelated crimes, one attributed to Paul Minor and the other to Scruggs and his co-conspirators. Dawson was the lead prosecutor in the Scruggs case, and he has a great deal of first hand information about the investigation and prosecution of that crime. The authors are less knowledgeable about the Minor prosecution, and that shows.
The book is marred by one startlingly vulgar "quote" attributed to Minor. This quote did not advance the narrative at all. It appears to me to be a gratutious cheap shot intended to embarrass and demean Minor. The remark is one neither of the authors could have heard first hand, and, as far as I can tell, the only citation that supports the accuracy of this "quote" is to Lange's own blog.
The book leaves unanswered many questions concerning the actions of P. L. Blake, an individual who worked closely with Scruggs and who collected $50 million for services he performed while the tobacco litigation was pending, servoces that both Blake and Scruggs have found difficult to identify or explain. The book also leaves unanswered many questions about the grant of immunity given to Ed Peters, one of the participants in the attempt to bribe Judge DeLaughter (Scruggs II).Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
In March of 2007, when Judge Henry L. Lackey perceived that he had been offered a bribe to influence him in a case before his court, he faced a quandary. Lackey was a judge in the sprawling Third Circuit of Mississippi, comprising the counties of Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette, Marshall, Tippah and Union in north Mississippi. The initial approach had come from Timothy Balducci, a young lawyer whom Lackey had mentored early in Balducci's career. The inducement offered was an "of counsel" position in Balducci's law firm whenever the septuagenarian judge chose to retire from the bench. But Lackey knew that the offer was made on behalf of Richard L. `Dickie' Scruggs, a litigant in a legal-fees dispute before Lackey's court and the universally-acknowledged 800-pound gorilla of tort litigation in Mississippi.
Hence, Judge Lackey's quandary: his first inclination was to report his suspicions to state authorities. But this would bring the information to the attention of Attorney General Jim Hood. In a telling sign of the rot and cronyism that had already infected the legal system in Mississippi, Lackey knew that Hood -- and his predecessor, Mike Moore - had been allies and virtual tools of Scruggs and the plaintiffs' bar in shaking down the tobacco industry and attempting to do the same to the insurance industry in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Lackey wisely decided to take his information to Tom Dawson and John Hailman of the office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi in Oxford. The judge thus set in motion a chain of events that would dominate the remaining 21 months of Dawson's tenure as First Assistant U.S. Attorney, while having profound consequences for all of the other players involved.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
After reading the Fall of the House of Zeus written by someone who had been a friend of Dickie Scruggs, I felt bad that he got as much jail time as he did. Now that I have read the prosecution's version of events I have regained my sanity. He played the system for his own gain and really got himself into trouble by not keeping his word on deals he made with his own partners in litigation. As the saying goes, there is no honor among thieves. Former partners knew that about him and were quick to cut their own deals with the prosecutor. Very well written. I do still stand by my review of the pro-Scruggs book because it was also very well written.
"Kings of Tort" was written by Allan Lange, a political blogger, and Tom Dawson, one of the federal prosecutors who handled the Dickie Scruggs case. There is no denying that the Scruggs case has it all: high flying, rich trial lawyers, venal judges, and various other Machiavellian types. But this book is so poorly organized and written that it takes all the fun out of the scandal! For starters, there are the typos. I counted at least five (including a few that spellcheck would have caught if used). That's annoying, especially in a book that runs only 255 pages. Also, if you're writing about law, you should know that "tortious" is not the same as "tortuous," which happens early in the book. But the real problem with this book is organization. There appears to have been no editor, based on the opening acknowledgements. So, dear reader, you have to read the same stuff over and over. Characters are re-introduced multiple times. Facts are repeated. Repeatedly. Then there's the creeping bias in favor of the Feds and against anyone else. I know a federal prosecutor wrote the book (and some of his insights into how plea bargains works are quite useful), but toward the end the book turns into a paean to the glory of federal prosecutors. Example from page 237, concerning Dickie Scruggs' apparent hope that prosecutors would leave him alone after he pled guilty in his first case: "Scruggs misjudged the resolve of the U.S. Attorney's Office. Prosecutors aren't in the business of counting scalps on a lodgepole. They use the evidence in a case to uphold the law." Would that this generality were true of all U.S. Attorneys, but we need look no further than the Ted Stevens Alaska bribery case to see that it's not. So, in short, this Grishamesque tale of sordid lawyer conduct is worth reading about, but it would have better if Grisham (who knew Scruggs well) had written it.
Was this review helpful to you?