Dickie Scruggs famously coined the phrase ‘magic jurisdictions’ – notorious local hot spots of trial lawyer influence where judges are ‘elected with verdict money’ and defendants find it ‘almost impossible to get a fair trial.’ While Mr. Scruggs made a living by tilting the legal odds in his favor, his sentence of five years in prison for conspiring to bribe a judge proves there are some lines that cannot be crossed.
Mr. Scruggs is just the latest in a string of high-profile plaintiffs’ trial lawyers who have admitted to, or have been found guilty of, abusing the integrity of America’s legal system for their personal financial gain. His sentencing comes as three plaintiffs’ trial lawyers in Kentucky are being tried for stealing millions of dollars from their own clients in a class action lawsuit, and on the heels of the guilty pleas of Bill Lerach, Mel Weiss and others for criminal conspiracy in paying millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks to lead plaintiffs.
The jailing of some of the biggest names in the multi-billion dollar class action industry exposes a culture of greed and corruption that seems to be growing within the plaintiffs’ trial bar. Congress must investigate this scandal so that our civil justice system returns to aiding people who have been wronged, not helping wealthy trial lawyers become wealthier.