The judge in the criminal trial of Richard Scrushy told jurors to make another effort to reach a verdict, saying that if a substantial majority favored a conviction, members of the minority should reconsider their position. U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre in Birmingham, Ala., issued her statement after the jury sent a note saying it was unable to reach a unanimous decision on any of the 36 charges being considered against the former HealthSouth Corp. chief. The jury resumed its 10th day of deliberations and subsequently adjourned without a verdict. Such instructions are common when a jury in a federal case appears to be deadlocked. The jury previously told Bowdre it could not reach consensus on a key conspiracy charge, and Bowdre instructed jurors to move on to the other 35 charges.
Bowdre said if the jury strongly leaned towards a conviction, jurors with doubts about Scrushy's guilt should consider whether those doubts were reasonable, "because it appears to make no effective impression upon the minds of others." Bowdre also said if a retrial were necessary, the next jury would have no more information than had already been presented. Scrushy, HealthSouth's founder and former chief executive officer, is the first CEO tried on a charge stemming from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. He is accused of playing a major role in accounting fraud at the company. -- by Joseph Mantone