With his sentencing in federal court, the saga of Richard “Dickie” Scruggs reads like a Greek tragedy or a verse from the Bible, for, certainly, lo, the mighty are fallen.
But if Scruggs, his family and associates were given tough sentences, the integrity of the Mississippi Bar was dealt a tougher blow with the judicial bribery scandal.
The revelations – that still are reverberating with bench and bar – are as shocking as the charges, exposing tangled relationships and innuendo among lawyers and judges that point to a too-cozy system. It’s an indictment of Mississippi’s judicial system itself.
The scandal is reminiscent of the FBI’s Operation Pretense sting in the 1980s that saw dozens of county supervisors plead guilty to corruption, leading to county government reform statewide.
Like it, this begs fundamental reform, too.
Citizens must have faith in their judicial system for it to work. Mississippi’s judicial system is now under the spotlight. As strong a message as these sentences send, reform remains undone.