West Virginia Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Runaway Author

By The West Virginia Record | Feb 8, 2008

When lawyer-turned-novelist John Grisham needed inspiration for his latest diddy, he didn't look in the mirror.

A career apologist and spinmeister for the gazillionaire trial lawyers bar, perhaps he couldn't bear it.

More easily, Grisham gazed with pity at poor 'ole West Virginia. Judicial elections had its people suffering in tyranny, he decided. Evil corporate interests were at it again.

Touring the country to publicize his new book, "The Appeal," Grisham has been throwing the Mountain State's justice system under the bus in scores of softball interviews on the air and in print.

As he tells it -- to NBC's "Today" host Matt Lauer and others -- his latest yarn about a chemical company buying a state supreme court seat is his adaptation of events in West Virginia, where he believes the highest court is bought and paid for.

It's an ironic opinion for the proud Mississippian, given the inconvenient truth of what's transpiring in his home state.

Billionaire trial lawyer and close Grisham friend Richard "Dickie" Scruggs recently was indicted on charges of bribing a state court judge.

When it comes to actual indictments of judicial corruption, this creative writer apparently lacks imagination.

"This doesn't sound like the Dickie Scruggs that I know," Grisham whined to the Wall Street Journal.

Far from developing another fictional narrative based on this real, close-to-home drama, Grisham has positioned himself as the lead trial bar corruption denier.

"Until a jury finds (Scruggs) guilty or he pleads guilty, I'm not going to believe it," Grisham said.

And maybe even not then. Grisham continues to defend convicted judge-briber and ex-Scruggs associate Paul Minor, sentenced last October to eleven years in prison. Once president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, Minor was found guilty of a range of charges, including racketeering and bribery of two judges presiding over his cases.

Grisham's Flat Earth Society analysis: "I never saw what the crime was."

When it comes to trial lawyers, especially ones he likes, he can't see well at all.

This failure of vision triggers an idea for our very own novel about a wildly successful writer of legal scandal dramas who gets wrapped up in a real-life dilemma of his own.

We're calling it "The Hypocrite." In bookstores soon.

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