Friday, May 20, 2005
Looks like the jury in the Scrushy case is asking the court a question (see Birmingham News here) which appears to relate to a conspiracy count.
It is not surprising to see a jury having some difficulty with jury instructions in a white collar case. The instructions in this case are 78 pages in length (see here) and even includes a glossary of terms for the jury (pages 20-23). One particular difference from street crime cases, found in some white collar matters involves the court speaking to possible civil collateral matters. For example, in this case, the jury was instructed that:
"Related Civil Suits
As I instructed you at the beginning of the trial, your deliberations in this case concern only the government’s allegations that Mr. Scrushy violated certain laws and is subject to criminal penalties because of that conduct. This case is NOT about claims against Mr. Scrushy or HealthSouth by shareholders or employees who lost money because of the fraud. Those matters are civil matters, and many civil cases have been filed about what compensation, if any, those people are entitled to receive. Those cases, although arising from the fraud at HealthSouth, involve different legal issues and standards, and have a different burden of proof. Those civil cases have not been tried and will not be tried until some time after the end of this criminal case to protect all parties’ right to a fair trial here.
Please remember that the issue before you is whether the Government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Scrushy committed the criminal acts the Government has alleged in this case. Penalties for any violations so proven are provided by the law and, if necessary, will be addressed by the court after you reach a verdict. Any civil liability Mr. Scrushy may owe to shareholders or employees will be determined later under the civil laws that apply to those cases. Therefore, you should not consider in any way in your deliberations any concerns that you might have about losses sustained by shareholders or employees. Those claims will be addressed elsewhere."