Seale clarifies “Kings of Tort” remarks
Jackson Attorney Steve Seale was in the audience yesterday when Alan Lange and Tom Dawson, the authors of “Kings of Tort”, talked about their new book at the Stennis Capitol Press Corps luncheon.
As Magnolia Marketplace reported here, Seale had some pretty strong words for Dawson, who was the lead prosecutor in the judicial bribery cases that led to Dickie Scruggs being hauled off to prison.
Anyway, Seale was a little upset because I didn’t talk to him afterward to get a completely clear picture of what he meant before I posted the original entry. Fair enough.
So after a 15-minute phone conversation with Seale, here’s what we know:
Seale said he has no problem with Dawson writing a book about the Scruggs cases per se. The issue is Dawson profiting from work he performed while he was a federal prosecutor. (Dawson has since retired from the post.)
“I think a prosecutor should be held to a higher standard,” Seale said.
The client of a U.S. attorney is the general public, Seale said, and any profit gleaned from serving that client should come with the client’s permission.
For his part, Dawson writes in the Reading Notes and Acknowledgements section of “Kings of Tort”: “Bar associations recognize the absurdity of obtaining permission of all citizens of the country in releasing case information, and generally leave it to the author to use common sense.”
Dawson also said that he adhered to Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure regarding nondisclosure of matters before a grand jury. “Any reference to grand jury testimony is derived from transcripts publicly filed by criminal defendants in their own motions and responses,” Dawson writes. He goes on to write that he did not divulge any federal prosecutor trade secrets, and chose not to quote directly in the book Department of Justice officials or defense lawyers.