Wednesday, March 16, 2005
What is the effect of the Ebbers verdict on the trial of former HealthSouth chief, Richard Scrushy? (See the Wall Street Journal here)
Unlike the Ebbers trial, that matched Scott Sullivan against Bernard Ebbers, the trial of Richard Scrushy, former HealthSouth chief, has a list of witnesses pointing the finger at him. Most recently we see the testimony of Tadd McVay, a former HealthSouth executive. McVay pled guilty and according to an AP story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, he received a sentence of "six months of house arrest, five years on probation and ordered [ ] to pay $60,000 in criminal forfeitures and fines."
A problem that prosecutors face when they make "deals," is the reaction of the jury when they hear this evidence. Consider the following reactions that juries can have to this type of testimony:
- Is the person testifying truthfully, or is this testimony tainted by the desire to obtain a shorter sentence for him or herself? (e.g. MvVay was facing 15 years)
- The defendant didn't take a deal so they must REALLY be innocent?
- Why did the prosecution let off culpable people with these "deals" ?
- The defendant seems less culpable then the people testifying. (After defense cross-examination, the person on trial may seem less guilty than the ones who plead and testified?)