In Surprising Turn, Scruggs Pleads Guilty

Famed Miss. lawyer may serve 5 years in bribery case
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2008 1:45 PM CDT
Richard "Dickie" Scruggs is shown April 19, 2006, at his office in Moss Point, Miss.    (AP Photo/Nicole LaCour Young, File)
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(Newser) – Dickie Scruggs, one of the nation's top class-action attorneys, entered a surprise guilty plea today in Jackson, Miss., to charges of conspiracy to bribe a judge, the Clarion-Ledger reports. Federal prosecutors said they would recommend 5 years in prison for Scruggs, who also faces a $250,000 fine. He pleaded guilty to attempting to pay a judge $40,000 to gain a favorable ruling.

Scruggs’ partner, Sidney Backstrom, also pleaded guilty today. Two others did so earlier, leaving Scruggs' son, Zach, as the only defendant left who will fight the charges in court. Scruggs, the brother-in-law of Trent Lott,  gained renown in the 1980s by pioneering the idea of mass-tort lawsuits, the Wall Street Journal notes.