BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A judge ordered deadlocked jurors to keep deliberating in the trial of Richard Scrushy on Friday after they reported being unable to reach a verdict on charges accusing the fired HealthSouth Corp. CEO of orchestrating the $2.7 billion overstatement of the medical chain’s earnings.
Prosecutors and the defense ruled out any plea deal as the possibility of a mistrial loomed, and both sides predicted victory in the end.
“I believe we have the majority of them, and I’m expecting a not guilty verdict,” Scrushy said outside the courthouse.
Two hours into their 10th day of deliberations, jurors sent a brief, handwritten note to U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre.
“We regret to inform the court that after many days of deliberating we were unable to reach a verdict of either guilty or not guilty of any/all counts,” said the message signed by juror No. 157, the foreman.
With jurors seated in court later, Bowdre told them “this trial has involved great time and exceptional effort by both the government and the defendant.”
“If you should fail to agree on a verdict, the case is left open and must be tried again,” she said.
Reading from an “Allen charge” instruction meant to prod jurors toward a unanimous decision, Bowdre addressed the possibilities of how the jury may be split.
If a “substantial majority” favors conviction, the judge said, those who want an acquittal “should reconsider whether your doubt is a reasonable one.” If other jurors are favoring a not guilty verdict, Bowdre said, those pushing for conviction should “ask yourselves again, and most thoughtfully,” whether the evidence is really good enough for a guilty verdict.
Jurors appeared somber during the hearing and ended deliberations a few minutes earlier than scheduled after again failing to reach a verdict. They return Monday.
Outside court later, both sides dismissed any possibility of a plea bargain. Prosecutor Richard Smith said there had been no discussions of a settlement as deliberations dragged on.
With his wife Leslie at his side, Scrushy also dismissed the idea of a guilty plea.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.