Ignatius on trial bar scandals; New Yorker on Scruggs

“At its worst, the system is close to legalized extortion. … It would be nice if the class-action lawyers reformed themselves, but if not, someone should file a lawsuit.” But op-ed columnist David Ignatius regards Melvyn Weiss and Dickie Scruggs as “good guys” gone wrong and says what occasioned their downfall “was a system in which the money just got too big”. This suggests their practices were more honest and aboveboard at an earlier stage in their careers when the stakes were smaller, but Ignatius does not offer evidence for this view, and I wonder whether he has any (“Reining In the Kings of Tort”, Washington Post, Jun. 5).

Relatedly, the New Yorker published a big article last month on the Scruggs scandal by correspondent Peter Boyer. (“The Bribe”, May 19, abstract; PDF at WSJ law blog). David Rossmiller, unsurpassed chronicler of that scandal, does an excellent job explaining why the article is, not wrong, exactly, but disappointing (May 27).

One Comment

  • David Rossmiller also had this excellent line about the Ignatius piece: “The system destroyed Scruggs? Wrong. Scruggs destroyed Scruggs. Scruggs got in trouble ‘in part because [he] was especially aggressive in representing people [he] believed had been wronged’? Like who, himself? Is that why he participated in the bribery scheme, because he was especially aggressive in representing those wronged people? That description makes it sound like he’s a cop who got suspended for knocking over some shelves of canned peas while rescuing hostages in a grocery store.”