Scrushy Jury Starts from Scratch

Lately, deliberations have been an on-and-off event.

Richard Scrushy — co-founder, former chairman, and former chief executive officer of HealthSouth Corp. — will need to hold on a little longer to learn if he’ll follow in the footsteps of Bernard Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski, and John Rigas.

On Wednesday, at Scrushy’s trial in a Birmingham, Alabama courtroom, U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre said that she had replaced an ill juror with an alternate. As is typical in such circumstances, Bowdre ordered the panel to begin its deliberations from scratch, so the alternate juror could begin on an equal footing.

The trial began January 25, and the case was given to the jury more than a month ago, on May 19. The jury has convened only about five hours a day, however, even on those days it has convened. Lately, pre-arranged vacations, the juror’s illness, and other matters have turned deliberations into an on-and-off event.

Although court procedures would permit deliberations to proceed with only 11 jurors provided both parties agree, attorneys for Scrushy have stated that their client insists on a decision by 12 jurors.

Scrushy and his close-knit HealthSouth “family” have been accused of recording as much as $2.7 billion of fake revenues on the company’s books over six years, and correspondingly adjusting the balance sheets and paper trails. Scrushy also has the distinction of being the first chief executive officer charged under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 — specifically, for knowingly filing a false report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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