Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Scrushy Defense Begins

The government rested its case against Richard Scrushy yesterday, with the judge granting the government's request to drop two charges (earlier post here).  One mail fraud charge alleged the wrong recipient, and for one money laundering charge involving Scrushy's purchase of four Persian rugs the seller had destroyed the paperwork -- one wonders how the government could have included counts without checking who received the mailing or having secured the documentary evidence before seeking the indictment.  The defense is scheduled to begin today at 1:30, assuming U.S. District Judge Bowdre does not grant the defense's Rule 29 motion to grant a judgment of acquittal on all counts.  There is certainly a possibility that the judge will dismiss some charges, although I think it is unlikely that the core securities fraud/false certification counts will be dropped. 

Once the defense begins, the key question is whether Scrushy will testify.  Given the parade of witnesses against him, including the five Guilty CFOs, I believe he will have to testify to establish his "honest but ignorant CEO" defense.  The evasiveness of former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers in his cross-examination should be a lesson to the defense team on how to prepare Scrushy for his testimony. An AP story (here) discusses the conclusion of the government's case. (ph)

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