Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Let the Trials Begin!

The jury has been picked in the trial of Richard Scrushy in Birmingham, Ala., and opening statements will begin today.  An article in the Birmingham News (Jan. 25) describes the jury: "A jury made up mostly of blacks and men was selected Monday to decide the case of HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy, who faces charges in the company's accounting scandal. Though the identities of the jurors are not public, at least 10 of the 18 chosen are black and at least 10 are male. On Monday, both sides seemed pleased with the jury selection process that began Jan. 5 and said they are prepared to move forward with the trial that could last up to four months." The jury selection process is nearly complete in the Bernie Ebbers trial in New York City, according to a Wall Street Journal story (Jan. 25), and seven more jurors have been selected in the retrial of former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski, bringing the total to eleven. 

It will be a surprise is any of the trials are done by mid-April -- barring a mistrial or grant of an acquittal -- and one (or more) could stretch into the summer.  The Ebbers trial seems to be the least-complicated, to the extent that the paper-trail appears to be less extensive than in the other two cases.  The testimony of Scott Sullivan, WorldCom's former CFO and the person with the closest business relationship with Ebbers, likely will take quite a while, possibly two to three weeks.  Given how long these trials will take, make sure to curb your enthusiasm and don't get too worked up over the exciting accounting issues that will be aired to the juries. (ph)

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