The Legal Technology Leadership Summit: A Notable Keynote
Exciting developments continue to unfold as we prepare for the Legal Technology Leadership Summit, presented by Above the Law in partnership with the Electronic Discovery Institute (EDI) and the American Society of Digital Forensics and eDiscovery (ASDFED). Today we are pleased to announce the speakers who will present the keynote address, which will kick off an informative two-day agenda featuring over 50 leading in-house legal experts:
■Tom Dawson and Alan Lange, Co-authors, Kings of Tort
The Florida Bar Journal Review by Annie Butterworth Jones
Kings of Tort
By Alan Lange and Tom Dawson
Reviewed by Annie Butterworth Jones
Throughout the the 1990s and early 2000s, Mississippi attorney Dickie Scruggs had a reputation of helping the “little guy.” He sued the asbestos industry on behalf of shipyard workers, brought down big tobacco companies, and fought insurance corporations after Hurricane Katrina. By the mid-2000s, Scruggs had reached a net worth of nearly one billion dollars.
David Rossmiller’s review published in the Mississippi College School of Law Review
The following is an excerpt from an article (Westlaw Subscription required) written by David Rossmiller, of the Insurance Coverage Blog, published in the Mississippi College School of Law Review. Thanks to both David Rossmiller and the MC School of Law for permission to excerpt the article.
In the broad scheme of things, Scruggs’s use and misuse of a combination of litigation, politics, self-promotion, and public relations appeals to naked self-interest masked as altruism and whatever-it-takes rule-bending *603 and -breaking is the real story—a toxic smorgasbord we might call Scruggsism—not merely the fact that a famous guy got pinched for rigging the scales. The story of Scruggs and Scruggsism has broad implications for American legal culture. Although we receive a certain schadenfreude from the details of some elite celeb miscreant like Winona Ryder getting bagged by the rozzers and frog-marched like a commoner for taking a five-finger discount, there is much more at play in the Scruggs story than morbid fascination.
A new book on Scruggs called Kings of Tort [FN3] gives us reason to think once again of Scruggs, who went to prison in 2008. The authors of this book provide a valuable service by examining Scruggs’s rise and fall. Although there is a decided emphasis on the fall with more than half the book’s 255 pages devoted to Scruggs’s prosecution, the authors’ cataloguing of his methods on the way up effectively foreshadows his end and makes us unsurprised—even if we did not know how the story ends—that Scruggs went out the way he did. The authors are Alan Lange, proprietor of the Y’all Politics blog [FN4] in Mississippi, and Tom Dawson, a recently retired federal prosecutor who played a major role in investigating and prosecuting Scruggs. It should be mentioned that I do not know Dawson, but Lange is a friend of mine. Lange and I communicated pretty often about the Scruggs scandal and prosecution and about Scruggs’s earlier role in Katrina civil litigation. One can also see in the book’s credits that the authors cited posts and materials from my blog, Insurance Coverage Blog, [FN5] and I am mentioned once or twice in the book. However, although I was aware they were working on a book, I did not speak to them about it or have any role in its creation or writing.
HERRING/‘The House of Zeus’ and ‘Kings of Tort’ by Jim Herring
12/1/2010 6:00:00 PM
HERRING/‘The House of Zeus’ and ‘Kings of Tort’
Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs in his hurricane-damaged house in Pascagoula in 2005. Jim Herring compares and contrasts “The Fall of the House of Zeus” by journalist Curtis Wilkie with “Kings of Tort.” (Photo by: Jim Wilson/The New York Times.)
I have now finished reading “The Fall of the House of Zeus” by Curtis Wilkie, who teaches journalism at the University of Mississippi, and is a fellow at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss. Mr. Wilkie has been a prominent journalist for many years, serving early in his career as a reporter for the Clarksdale Press Register during Mississippi’s civil rights struggles that received national attention. During that time, he formed a fairly close relationship with the late Aaron Henry, one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in Mississippi and now a historic figure in Mississippi history. Later, Wilkie was a national and international reporter for The Boston Globe, during which he covered everything from presidential elections to the seemingly endless Arab-Israeli conflicts in the Middle East.
In 1993, Mr. Wilkie returned to the South and lived for a period in New Orleans, near his childhood home in Pike County, Mississippi. Upon returning to the South, he wrote a nostalgic autobiographical account of his life in an excellent book entitled “Dixie,” which I re-read in preparation for writing this review of “Zeus.” In “Dixie,” Mr. Wilkie wrote about why he left his home state after his stay in Clarksdale, although he loved Mississippi, and why he eventually felt the call to return home to be with “his people,” as did Willie Morris. After re-reading “Dixie” and now having read “Zeus,” I am convinced that Curtis Wilkie does indeed love the Magnolia State and wants the best for its people, although he may disagree with many of us as to what is best. He strikes me as a person with whom you may disagree, but he is not disagreeable in the process. I also perceive that as a citizen of Oxford and in preparing for and writing “Zeus,” Mr. Wilkie was struck by the great personal tragedy that occurred in the rise and fall of Dickie Scruggs (called “Zeus” by his childhood classmates).
Painful to read for an attorney…
Jim Herring, a Canton attorney, is former chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party. See his blog at http://www.jimherring.ms.
White Collar Crime Prof Blog - Recommended Reading: Kings of Tort
The book gives a fascinating look at the stragegy 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. - White Collar Crime Prof Blog
Civil Justice Association of California - San Francisco, CA
“It Can Happen Here” by John Frith
MS Digital Daily.com - ‘Kings of Tort’ an essential read
Wyatt Emmerich in the Northside Sun about Judge Henry Lackey and Kings of Tort
I wrote dozens of editorials, appeared on “60 Minutes,” and was sued for billions by big-time plaintiffs attorneys trying to intimidate me. It was not an easy time. In the end, the Mississippi Legislature passed the fairest tort reform laws in the nation.
As I talked with Mississippi Judge Henry Lackey at the Kings of Tort book signing, I realized a truism about our great country. In the end, it comes down to good people doing the right thing in tough situations. Judge Lackey is one of those people.
I asked Judge Lackey if there was any doubt about what to do. He answered without hesitation. No doubt whatsoever. The minute he realized what was happening, he knew what he had to do.
At first, Lackey didn’t realize he was being bribed. He kept wondering about strange turns of phrases coming from Tim Balducci, the young attorney who was instructed by Dickie Scruggs to bribe the judge.
Then one day, he made the realization. He was being solicited for a bribe. As the solicitations became more direct, there was no more doubt.
Kings of Tort Book Trailer
Greater Jackson Business interview with Alan Lange
GJB: Is there a particular section or part of the book that you are most proud of or carries the strongest message?
Lange: Believe it or not, I think the reference section of the book carries the strongest message. There are scores of links to information that has long been in the public domain. Though there is a lot of value in the narrative itself, the collection of data carries the strongest message of all. And the message has national implications as a cautionary tale so that people in law and politics nationwide can recognize the warning signs.
Greater Jackson Business Review - “Kings Of Tort” paints sobering picture, presents riveting rea
The authors, utilizing meticulous research and chronological dilligence, document the events which led to the ultimate undoing of Scruggs and his co-horts. Far from being a monotonous recitation, however, “King of Torts” reads almost like a novel, keeping the reader in suspense in spite of the fact that most are probably very aware of the outcome. Easily read in one sitting, “Kings Of Tort” will elicit anger regardless of your political allegiance. The book’s goal (and it is reached successfully) is to present this tragic situation in an objective light sans political partisanship. All readers will learn a lot from this book; hopefully, it’s popularity will prevent any such travesties from taking place in the future by awakening readers to the depths some men will go to for the promise of fame and fortune in the name of the “public good.”
For their first book, “Kings Of Tort” must be judged a triumph for Lange and Dawson and its rise on the bestseller lists confirms that assesment. Locally, the book has flown off the shelves and Greater Jackson Business predicts national coverage for the book, as well. Surely this book is the best of the season thus far and is mandatory reading—get your copy today.
Former MS GOP Chairman Jim Herring reviews Kings of Tort
When I first heard that “Kings of Tort” was to be published, my initial thought was that the book would simply be bringing up old, painful news that most Mississippians would like to leave in the past, particularly since it dealt with public officials and public figures (and their families) that had been friends and colleagues of many of us. However, after reading the first gripping pages which recounted the actual FBI-wired conversations between attorney Tim Balducci and Dickie Scruggs; and the conversations between Balducci and Dickie’s two young associates (Zach Scruggs and Sidney Backstrom); as well as the account of how the attempted bribery of Judge Henry Lackey actually took place, I knew that “Kings of Tort” was an important work . . . I strongly recommend “Kings of Tort” as a “must read” for all Americans who are interested in maintaining the rule of law in our great country and do not subscribe to the theory that “the ends justify the means” when attempting to bring about social change or accomplish some otherwise noble goal.
Alan Lange recognized as “Restore Integrity Award” winner
Alan Lange was recognized as a private sector recipient of POPULAR, Inc.‘s 2010 Restore Integrity Award. This bi-annual award recognizes the “sometimes silent heroes who break down proverbial walls of silence and light the way for others, and who serve to inspire, encourage, and help others join to restore integrity.”
Judge Henry L. Lackey was also recognized “for reporting the bribery overture to federal authorities that derailed a seemingly invincible, corrupt segment of the Mississippi legal system led by various “Kings of Torts,” certain powerful lawyers who sullied the noble mission of the plaintiffs’ bar for personal gain.”
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter reviews Kings of Tort
... authors Alan Lange and Tom Dawson give readers a chance to see the tape transcripts and documents that led to Scrugg’s downfall and judge for themselves how well the feds made their case.
Dawson, now retired, was the lead federal prosecutor in the Scruggs case. Lange owns the yallpolitics.com blog that served as Ground Zero for new about the Scruggs probe.
Kings of Tort is a must-read for anyone building a serious personal library on Mississippi politics. It is also a cautionary tale about greed, hubris and how money greases the wheels of state politics.”
Greenwood Commonwealth - Lawyers’ downfall chronicled in book
Alan Lange and Tom Dawson put a lot of work into their new book about the downfall of prominent attorneys Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and Paul Minor, and they encourage readers to draw their own conclusions.
“Here’s what happened. This is what we think about it. Now you make up your own mind,” Lange said Friday at a book signing at Turnrow Book Co. for “Kings of Tort: The True Story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor and Two Decades of Political and Legal Manipulation in Mississippi.”
The Mississippi Press on Gulf Coast book signings
“Kings of Tort” is a nonfiction collaboration between Tom Dawson and Alan Lange, focusing on the fall of former Pascagoula attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and his partner in tobacco litigation, Paul Minor.
Scruggs and Minor made millions in defense of clients targeting “big tobacco” companies and others, and both are currently serving prison terms for improperly influencing judges.
Their rise and eventual fall was watched closely by Mississippians and people throughout the nation alike, and “Kings of Tort” serves as the crossroads of pertinent information regarding their cases . . .
Tom Dawson and Bob Norman recieve Director’s Award for Scruggs prosecution
The Department of Justice held its 26th annual Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Director’s Awards Ceremony today, during which 146 award recipients from more than 30 districts were recognized for their dedication to carrying out the Department of Justice’s mission. Among the award recipients, from the Northern District of Mississippi, were Assistant United States Attorney Robert H. Norman and retired First Assistant United States Attorney Thomas W. Dawson who were recognized for their superior performance. Recipients included Assistant United States Attorneys, law enforcement agents, litigation teams and others who have made outstanding contributions in federal, state and local law enforcement.
“These award recipients have been honored for their service and commitment to our country, as well as to their local communities,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Each of these dedicated servants has carried out the important mission of the Department of Justice. Their accomplishments have advanced the interests of justice on behalf of the American people.”
NORTHSIDE SUN - ‘Kings of Tort’ chronicles a sordid chapter
Lange and Dawson have come together to produce an authoritative account of the takedown of the King of Torts, appropriately titled Kings of Tort.
Mississippi Business Journal reviews Kings of Tort
With its more than 30 pages of footnotes, including an impressive collage of online data from trial transcripts, law firm web sites, local and national TV and print coverage, public lectures, Wikipedia and even federal wiretaps, “Kings” bears a glaring feel of aggregation, much like Lange’s popular blog, which is also numerously cited.
Meridian Star - Definitive book of Dickie Scruggs out soon
If you thought back road deals were a thing of the long ago past then “Kings of Tort” will show you how only recently there was a group of attorneys and judges who were spinning vast webs of under-the-table agreements for their financial gains.
John Evans of Lemuria Books reviews Kings of Tort
Kings starts in the late 80s and traces Scruggs’ rise and fall path, along the way culprits come and go. Lange and Dawson weave together this story in a compelling fashion to give the reader insight and a clear time line.
Kings reads with all the characteristics of a novel, yet it is not. It seems truthful without too much author grandstanding and personal agenda. Leanly written, without too much flowery embellishment, reading takes on the fast pace of a thriller.
For me, Kings is a cross of Jack Nelson’s fine Terror in the Night and an early Grisham legal thriller.
This is a must-read for inquiring Mississippians.
Review from Madison County Journal
Captivated, I read it in two sittings.
. . .
Left-wing conspiracies suggest Minor is a political prisoner, prosecuted through a Karl Rove conspiracy in the Bush Justice Department. But this book proves a convincing case for Minor’s guilt (already determined by jury of his peers) and shares the evidence of his attempts to cover-up his misdeeds.
Legal Newsline - Scruggs book coming Dec. 2
“We were both convinced that there would likely not be a narrative that would put the scandal in the correct historical context,” said Lange, who also runs a legal staffing company.
“Small businesspeople like myself have long suspected that Scruggs was, in fact, telling the truth when he bragged about ‘magic jurisdictions’ that fundamentally lacked fairness for civil defendants.
“I thought it was critical to get the facts out there in context so that everyone could recognize the signs of this corruption and be on guard so it will never happen again.”
Lange and Dawson compiled more than 100 sources like news reports and court documents, and used Dawson’s experience on the case to provide insight into the behind-the-scenes elements of the investigation.
Sun Herald’s Geoff Pender reviews Kings of Tort
“...the book is concise, easy to read and explains complex legal and political maneuvers in a way that laypeople can easily follow.
The book, and an accompanying Web site that provides access to all the legal and media sources used, also marks perhaps the best compendium of fact to date on the sordid tale.”
Madison County Journal - Grisham’s newest thriller
The FBI raids the office of a billionaire trial lawyer who brought down Big Tobacco after flipping a cohort in a judicial bribery scheme. His own defense lawyer turns against him when a former district attorney reveals another scheme involving yet another judge. A judge and several attorneys go to prison. That billionaire had previously been a witness in another government investigation that resulted in the jailing of a trial lawyer known as “the judge maker” and two state court judges.
After reading that actual news in Mississippi over the past few years, it is a relief to enjoy the fiction of legal thriller novelist John Grisham. The international best seller and former Mississippi legislator recently released his first collection of short stories, “Ford County,” where he takes us back to the imaginary county in northeast Mississippi that was the setting for “A Time to Kill” for seven tales of Mississippi antics. (In the movie, the setting was Madison County and Canton.)
Meanwhile, if you’d rather read about the fall of the billionaire trial lawyer and the judge maker, that true story comes out next month with the release of “Kings of Tort: The true story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor, and two decades of political and legal manipulation in Mississippi” by Y’all Politics blogger Alan Lange and former assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Dawson.
The launch party sponsored by Jackson’s Lemuria Books will be held at the Pinnacle Building in downtown Jackson on Dec. 2, with subsequent signings in Oxford, Hattiesburg, Gulfport, Meridian, Greenwood, and Pass Christian.
LAWANDMORE’s Jane Genova - A book review on Kings of Tort
The value this overview of Scruggs and his era adds to the history of litigation in America is that it can be used by current reformers to hedge their arrogance and earnestness with respect for their own possible myopia. There’s a paradigm shift in progress in the business and profession of law, the limits of populism, and how to define success. Every law student, lawyer, policy maker, and parent should have a copy of “Kings of Tort.”
Oxford Enterprise talks about Kings of Tort as first book on scandal to hit bookstores
Tom Dawson, one of three federal prosecutors who sat on the other side of the bar in the same Oxford courtroom, teamed up this past June with Alan Lange, a conservative Mississippi legal blogger, to write “Kings of Tort: The True Story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor, and Two Decades of Political and Legal Manipulation in Mississippi,” due out Dec. 2 by Pediment Publishing. Pediment specializes in commemorative publications for newspapers.
Dawson, who has lived and worked in Oxford since 1975, retired from his assistant U.S. attorney position for the Northern District of Mississippi in January. He and Lange hooked up this summer to write the book, the first for both men, and turned in the final copy to Pediment a few weeks ago.
The process moved from start to finish pretty quickly, Dawson said. “You can’t discount the fact that I lived it. It was not something being written by a third party, so it was fresh on my mind.”
Dawson combined his inside perspective with Lange’s compilation of media reports to create a cohesive narrative of the investigation and prosecution.
The timing of the two releases created a bit of a stir in Oxford.
Jerry Mitchell - Upcoming books take look at Scruggs bribery scandal
The federal investigation into the biggest judicial bribery scandal in Mississippi history is continuing, and an insider’s take on that scandal soon will hit the shelves.
“Kings of Tort: The True Story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor, and Two Decades of Political and Legal Manipulation in Mississippi” by Alan Lange and Tom Dawson is slated for release next month by Pediment Publishing.
Dawson, who retired in January as first assistant U.S. attorney in Oxford, was involved in the undercover federal operation that led to the arrest and guilty pleas of Scruggs and others on corruption charges. Lange is a conservative political commentator for yallpolitics.com.
Patsy Brumfield - NE MS Daily Journal Review
“. . .it is a handy look at Scruggs’ life, his most public litigations and his eventual downfall.”
Kings of Tort to be released nationwide on December 2nd
The amazing story behind tort magnate Dickie Scruggs’s judicial bribery scandal is presented by Pediment Publishing. Kings of Tort is the authoritative work on documenting this nationally known story and the relatively unknown 25 year history behind it. The book will be made available in retail outlets throughout the country on December 2nd. More Information including advance ordering of the book is available at http://www.kingsoftort.com. Read more ....
LAW AND MORE - In Santa’s Bag - “Kings of Tort” by Alan Lange and Tom Dawson
Scruggs is a compelling character. In covering how the feds were moving in on him, I asked lawyers: How could this have happened? How does a cunning mind and streetfighter cross the line from doing well by doing good to flamboyantly breaking the law? Plaintiff attorney Bill Marler of Marler Clark Law Firm answered in one word: Greed. Maybe that’s it. Maybe greed was the force which pulled Scruggs across that line that usually separates clever players from jailed ones.
Lange and Dawson have done for legal nonfiction what other great Southern writer John Grisham did for fiction. The South has a way of producing powerful voices [including, of course, Ted Turner.] Lange is a businessman from Jackson, Mississippi and runs the popular political site YallPolitics. Dawson, from Oxford, Mississippi, is a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who retired from his position in early 2009.
Oxford Eagle - Book Ready on Scruggs Legal Saga
By Alyssa Schnugg
A former assistant U.S. Attorney and Jackson blogger have co-authored a book on political and legal manipulation in Mississippi that features the rise and fall of trial attorneys Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and Paul Minor.
Published by Pediment Publishing, the 250-plus page book is due out in the first week of December, said Dave Hollingsworth, director of sales and marketing for Pediment.
The book will be titled, “Kings of Tort: The True Story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor and Two Decades of Political and Legal Manipulation in Mississippi.”
The authors, former assistant U.S. attorney Tom Dawson and Alan Lange, who manages the political blog Y’all Politics, met last year at an Ole Miss football game.