Tuesday, June 28, 2005
The "not-guilty" verdict in the Scrushy trial is not surprising, although its timing is -
1. The judge replaced a juror after 16 days of deliberations, telling them to start "anew." But 4 days later there is a verdict. Did they really start anew? Or did this new juror help to reconcile the prior split that the jury had?
2. No one really won here. The government received a "not guilty" on a major case it had worked on for years - - a case that had to have cost taxpayers significant amounts of money. The company paid 100 million in a civil penalty. And Richard Scrushy, although walking out of court a free man, has had to have suffered enormously throughout this process. As he stated earlier, it is a shame that his father who passed away days ago did not get to hear the sound "not-guilty" after sitting through the entire trial.
3. Using the Sarbanes-Oxley Act will not mean an automatic guilty verdict for the government.
4. Jurors want to know that a defendant is responsible for the acts and that he or she really knew what was happening at a company - - that is before they will convict - and at least in Alabama.
5. One has to wonder what effect the prosecutor's conduct had on the jury-- the repeated references to Enron and WorldCom, even after being admonished by the judge not to do this. Also the government sending witnesses in who are wired up to "get" evidence is probably not something that plays well in the south. The fact that the government used so many charges - "the throwing of spaghetti against the wall and hoping something sticks" can make jurors wonder if the government really has a strong case.
6. And finally, the most important - Richard Scrushy is innocent. Maybe this verdict is because he did not know what others in the company, other who did plead guilty and tried to cut deals for themselves (although 2 sentences were vacated see here), were doing in the company. With jurors listening attentively to the trial, taking its time to deliberate, the reason for this result is because it represents what really happened here -- the man should not have been charged with a crime.
7. So government- my advice is to take this decision and move on to other cases. To proceed against Richard Scrushy on dismissed charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, as now stated by Alice Martin here is not the answer. And would this statement have been made if the verdict was guilty?
esp (from across the pond -in Edinburgh, Scotland - at the International Society for the Reform for Criminal Law -ISRCL).
P.S. I am still bothered by that other southern jury case (here), where the jurors had to work through Memorial Day weekend and Memorial Day.