Dickie Scruggs to speak at Port City Kiwanis

Published 11:38 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The man once considered the most powerful trial lawyer in America will speak to the Port City Kiwanis Thursday morning at 7 at Rowdy’s Restaurant.

Richard F. “Dickie” Scruggs once a prominent trial lawyer, one of the richest men in Mississippi, a twice convicted felon and now advocate for second chances will talk about his experience in prison and how he found his life’s calling.

“While he was in prison, he became very passionate about adult education, and while out of prison awaiting an appeal he heard Colleen Hartfield, an adult education instructor, speak on public radio and he began to look into adult education and found that 20 percent of adults in Mississippi over the age of 25 did not have a high school diploma,” Cathy Clanton said. Canton works for Scruggs’ nonprofit organization SecondChanceMS.

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Scruggs first came to the public eye after successfully suing the asbestos industry on behalf of ill shipyard workers. He later represented the state of Mississippi in the tobacco litigation of the 1990s. After Hurricane Katrina he also represented hundreds of homeowners in lawsuits against insurance companies.

Scruggs’ career was derailed when he was indicted in a judicial bribery scheme in 2007. Scruggs’ motion to dismiss the indictment was denied, and he pled guilty to two counts of mail fraud. He served six years in federal prison and was released in 2014.

“After he got out of jail, because he was disbarred and the scandal surrounding that, he knew that his life’s calling was to make a significant dent in that number,” Clanton said.

Scruggs served five years in prison for a federal bribery charge and seven years for mail fraud in the corruption of a public official. He’s put that behind him and is looking to make the most of his second chance, Clanton said.

Clanton is a childhood friend of Kiwanian Billy Crozier and he reached out to Clanton after he was placed in charge of procuring speakers for the month of July.

“I was best friends with Clanton’s little brother growing up in Brookhaven and when I contacted her about having Scruggs speak, she said they would love to come,” Crozier said. “We’d love to have as many people as we can there.”