Scruggs prosecutors recognized

John O'Brien Dec. 8, 2009, 3:34am


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized two of the prosecutors who worked on the judicial bribery scandal involving famed plaintiffs attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Norman and former First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Dawson were among 146 award recipients at the 26th Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys Director's Awards Ceremony on Dec. 4.

Dawson is the co-author of "Kings of Tort," a book chronicling the Scruggs saga. It was released Wednesday.

"Their unparalleled dedication, skill and judgment in this highly sensitive case with national attention resulted in convictions of all defendants," said Jim Greenlee, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi.

"The team performed flawlessly, exhibiting extraordinary performance under pressure while executing tactical and strategic decisions in the successful prosecution that exposed a pattern of attempts to influence the judiciary. Their work has made a lasting positive impact on the Mississippi courts, attorneys and our system of justice.'"

Scruggs gained notoriety when his work helped lead to the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which has an estimated worth of $246 billion for the 52 participating territories and states. Mississippi is not one of them, but has its own separate agreement.

Scruggs' work was chronicle in the 1999 film "The Insider," starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.

He pleaded guilty in Nov. 2008 to attempting to influence Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey, receiving a five-year prison sentence. Lackey was presiding over an attorneys fees dispute filed by attorneys who worked on Hurricane Katrina suits with Scruggs.

Four others, including Scruggs' son Zach, received prison sentences in the scheme. Scruggs had 2 1/2 more years added to his sentence when he pleaded guilty to attempting to influence Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter.

DeLaughter pleaded guilty to misleading federal prosecutors, and Joey Langston, Scruggs' attorney on the lawsuit over which DeLaughter presided, received a three-year sentence after pleading guilty.

Lackey had notified federal prosecutors when Timothy Balducci, who had worked with Langston on the DeLaughter case, brought up the possibility of a bribe. The feds eventually used Balducci to gather evidence on Scruggs.

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