Friday, March 14, 2008

Is it over?

In a way, the story of the Scruggs Litigation is just beginning.

What might we see unfold if we watch closely? The care of a man for his son and his law partner, the stupidity of Tim Balducci, the arrogance of Joey Langston, the hunger of a Circuit Court Judge to bring his friend to ruin for a bit of fame, the violation of a judge's duties to the bar association, the judiciary, the people of Mississippi, proscutors with vanity license plates advertising their love for a highly dubious Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), and the list goes on and on.

One might conclude there is sin almost everywhere in this case -- lawyers, judges, politicians, law firm employees, insurance companies, tobacco companies, state attorneys general, lawyers and law firms who graze the landscape for poor souls who suffer at the hands and minds of "large" combines and small combines intent on making a buck no matter what the costs to the consumer and the enviroment (but no one really cares about the small combines (no assets and no glory -- read money)).

One would be hard pressed to find anything decent or uplifting in any of this. And, no one seems have enough personal integrity to step back a bit and, well, to bear witness to one's own complicity in the whole business. Yes, I mean complicity.

For now, all of us are home free. Dick Scruggs and Sid Backstrom are going to jail. Hopefully, people will be decent enough to give Zach Scruggs a pass. What one sees here, maybe, is the love of father and of a friend. Quite humbling I would say. Quite commendable.

All of this is very sad. A lot of it is very wrong.

But, what is really wrong, and very sad, is this: The system of law and justice in America has become corrupt. In its very essence, judges, prosecutors and private lawyers are really politicians -- people, who at bottom, exercise power. One gets the impression that law and the rule of law, and the judicial system is more a playground for those who love power than it is a place where the history of the human knowledge of right and wrong is written. Where the litigants and the judges are actually seeking to do real right by their fellows.

Those who use the judicial system as a playground of power are all right with this. They do not know any different. They have not had anyone tell them the human mind and spirit are capable of something which is much better. And, they are too proud, pugnacious and greedy for money and approval to care.

As one gets older, gets very close to end of his life, one sees the truth of the phrase "power corrupts."

Of the many roles played in this tale which may be the most sad from a standpoint of simple humanity -- man to man -- is the part played by Judge Lackey.

I will hold off from saying more -- I think more is to come about Ed Peters, Judge Bobby DeLaughter, Joey Langston and Judge Lackey, the state judge who became a government agent for purposes of putting the sting on Dick Scruggs.

For me, this episode in the history of America leads me to think this: Not one of the players in this sad drama could have read the authors and the books which have told us about ourselves -- Theodore Dreiser (An American Tradgedy), Sinclair Lewis (Babbit), Frank Norris (McTeague), F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby) or the New Testament.

The winners and the losers? I wonder. Is there really any difference? Is it possible this whole situation may have a simple and common basis in the desire of people to engage in war and the notion that material things are the primary measure of all things. (Or, maybe, unknowingly fulfill their own versions of the oedipus complex -- but I will save that line of thought for another time.)

Who really knows? I suspect there is something much deeper and simpler playing itself out in the whole Scruggs Litigation Matter. Who really knows? Someone will come closer to understanding and knowing what has really happened as time passes. Maybe.

But, the entire situation may never be known or understood. Like so much we think we know, the real facts, the real attachments of human emotion and motivation, the real truth will be lost to history.

Maybe in waiting we will finally come to know. But, I must say, I doubt it. I doubt it because we go into death and into history seeing the world, always, in the way that suits us best. We live out our lives in our daydreams, diversions. Pascal was right.

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