Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The second edition of Kings of Tort has recently been released by Pediment Publishing. Billed as "the true story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor, and two decades of political and legal manipulation in Mississippi," it is written by my old friend Tom Dawson (former AUSA and Criminal Chief in the Northern District of Mississippi) and Alan Lange. The story is clearly told from a pro-prosecution point of view, but, that said, it is a terrific read. The case fell into Dawson's lap through the courage of Mississippi State Court Judge Henry Lackey, who was offered a bribe (in a case pending before him) by a co-conspirator of tort king Dickie Scruggs. Lackey went to the feds and the rest is history. The book gives a fascinating look at the strategy and tactics employed by Dawson, his colleagues at the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the FBI. Dawson had to keep the entire investigation secret in a very small legal community where everybody's business is typically well known. Good luck, good planning, and tough professionalism kept the undercover operation running smoothly, while co-conspirators were confronted and turned one by one. Make no mistake about it, this is an account written from the federal government's perspective. Yet it offers a unique contemporary glimpse into how a federal public corruption case is built. The subtitle is somewhat misleading, as there is far more about the Scruggs case than the Minor case in the book. I recommend it highly. There is an accompanying web site, with supplementary materials, at kingsoftort.com.