Justice For Sale: Scruggs Takes the 5th - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Oxford 04/15/08

Justice For Sale: Scruggs Takes the 5th

Embattled tort attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs has testified in a civil trial but invoked his 5th amendment right against self incrimination when questioned about his role in a bribery scheme.

Scruggs appeared Tuesday for the hearing in Lafayette County Circuit Court in a lawsuit over $26.5 million in legal fees.

The lawsuit was filed against Scruggs by a law firm that claims it was shortchanged for its work on Hurricane Katrina litigation. 

It's the same case that led to federal bribery charges against Scruggs, his son and several associates.

The men have all pleaded guilty to charges related to a conspiracy to bribe Circuit Judge Henry Lackey for a favorable ruling in the case. 

ckey, who also took the stand, reported the bribe attempt last year and worked undercover with the FBI. 

Lackey testified that he initially didn't want to believe that his friend, New Albany attorney Timothy Balducci, was trying to influence him on Scruggs' behalf.

Balducci was the first person to plead guilty in the federal bribery probe.  He has cooperated with authorities.

Special Circuit Judge William Coleman was appointed to preside over the fee dispute case. Scruggs took the 5th at least 19 times when asked about the bribery scheme.

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