Anyway, Olsen, who's followed the Scruggs case closely (you can find much more at overlawyered.com) says it may all have arisen out of a strategic mistake: stiffing a fellow lawyer. The case in which Scruggs is alleged to have participated in a bribe of a state judge arose out of a dispute with another law firm about division of about $27 million in fees related to Hurricane Katrina insurance litigation.
So why would Scruggs, who by all estimates is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, get involved in "boneheaded bribery scheme" to use his "friend" John Grisham's words? Because the fee dispute threatened to expose where other skeletons lay in a long career of, at best, on the edge ethical behavior.
We said it earlier: Scruggs didn't get where he is by playing by the same rules as everyone else. We think he'd gotten away with so much, for so long, while wrapping himself santimoniously in the cloak of doing good for the little people, that he figured he wouldn't get caught.
For example, Olsen reports that Scruggs admitted "in an otherwise low-profile asbestos fee dispute that he gave $10 million to a political operative for vaguely described consulting services to influence opinion-makers during the tobacco affair." No doubt the folks being influenced were unaware that the "operative" was on Scruggs' payroll--the same type of practice Scruggs was making an issue of with the tobacco companies.
David Rossmiller, a Portland, Oregon lawyer who's covered Scruggs on his Insurance Coverage Blog, nailed it beautifully, saying that the indictment should prompt Scruggs' admirers (like Grisham) to re-evaluate "how this amazingly successful man got to be so amazingly successful."