Favorite

Words, April 10 

“ ‘King of Torts' Cops a Plea,” was the headline, and you can tell that the writer derived pleasure from it, as who wouldn't. “When a lawyer's laid low, the sun shines brighter,” Helen Keller once wrote, “and the birds sing more sweetly.”

The news article was about the famous Mississippi trial lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, who recently pled guilty to a charge of conspiring to bribe a judge. I received a transcript of the hearing, and my source was more interested in Scruggs' language than his ethics. This is Scruggs when the judge asked him to respond to the prosecutor's version of events:

“It's not exactly as the prosecutor allocuted, in that there was no intent to bribe the judge [at that time]; it was an intent to earwig the judge, Judge Lackey, and that that — the earwigging idea was not originated by me or anyone in our firm, although we went along with it …” Later, he admitted to membership in the bribery conspiracy. But let's get back to the earwigging.

My source, who's spent considerable time in courtrooms, says he's never heard of earwigging a judge, or anyone else. Neither have I. But the verb earwig is in the Random House: “to fill the mind of with prejudice by insinuations.”

The noun earwig refers to a nocturnal insect. The name comes from an old wives' tale that earwigs burrow through human ears to lay eggs in the brain. They don't. Thank goodness.

The verb allocuted is new to me too. Allocution, the noun, is “a formal speech, especially one of an incontrovertible or hortatory nature.” I wonder if lawyers refer to “the allecutor” and “the allocutee.” I wouldn't put it past them.

Until now, Scruggs was most famous for smiting the tobacco companies and for being the brother-in-law of Trent Lott. An actor named Colm Feore played Scruggs in a 1999 movie about the tobacco case. Another movie is being made about North Little Rock lawyer Tab Turner, who defeated the Ford Motor Co. Michael Douglas will play Turner.

Be on the lookout, Mr. Turner. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown of King of Torts.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Football for UA Little Rock

    • He's BSC. Students and tuition-paying parents should be VERY vocal that a football program won't…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • I have attended community meetings about the recent spike in violence in LR, and police…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Adawson's comments attribute the plight of black people in the United States to the War…

    • on July 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation