The recent federal indictment of Richard Scruggs is troubling for several reasons. Firstly, if the accusations turn out to be true, the fact that Mr. Scruggs is one of the nation’s most visible and successful trial lawyers will further damage the already existing negative stereotypes. Even if the accusations turn out to be false, the indictment will do nothing to enhance the reputation of trial lawyers. Secondly, the indictment is troubling because the ever-growing belief that large jury verdicts can only happen due to devious tactics and are never deserved will be further entrenched in our culture. This is especially a problem for the injured, neglected, and abused members of our society who are given one chance in front of a jury to correct the harms and losses they suffered. Small jury verdicts based on the belief that large jury verdicts (which are always widely publicized in the media and are always branded as mistakes) are just as devious as large jury verdicts obtained through bribes. Research by trial consultant David Ball and others has shown jurors often argue for lower verdicts as a result of the fear of public distain. What about the injured person or people? Verdict means literally ‘to speak the truth’ and the truth cannot be spoken when bribes or public pressure come into play. Each case must be evaluated on its own merits, even Mr. Scruggs’ case.
For a recent article on the indictment click here.