Risk & Compliance

Scrushy Jury Ordered to Deliberate

Jurors in the case of the founder of HealthSouth had said they could not agree on a verdict.
Stephen TaubMay 26, 2005

Jurors are reportedly having trouble coming up with a verdict in the accounting fraud trial of HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy.

On Tuesday, they told U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre that they were deadlocked after four days of deliberations, according to Bloomberg. “We cannot unanimously agree on a verdict,” the jury told the judge, according to the wire service. More specifically, they said they needed “an explanation in layman’s terms,” without specifying the nature of its confusion, the news service reported.

The judge denied the jurors’ request for a private meeting with her on the grounds that the parties in the case have the right to be present when she communicates with them, according to The Wall Street Journal..

Then, on Wednesday, the judge told the jury to “continue to work hard to reach a unanimous decision” in the case, which is being tried in Birmingham, Ala., the Journal reported. “To convict Mr. Scrushy, you must all agree that the government met its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt as to every element of the count or counts on which you find Mr. Scrushy guilty,” Judge Bowdre reportedly told jurors in a four-minute court session.

The tone of the judge’s remarks suggests that a mistrial is not imminent, according the Journal. The paper noted that the judge referred to sections of her previous instructions, adding: “If you find Mr. Scrushy guilty as to the conspiracy charge, you do not have to reach unanimous agreement as to every charged offense of the conspiracy or every overt act, as long as you unanimously agree on at least one of each.”

Scrushy told reporters outside the courthouse that he was encouraged by the jury’s responses. “It’s comforting to know there are people back there [on the jury] who think I’m not guilty,” he said, according to The Journal. “I believe we’ll get a not guilty verdict on all counts.”