Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The second criminal prosecution of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy is getting ready to launch, unless he can succeed in having the indictment thrown out because the pool of potential grand jurors did not include a sufficient number of African-Americans. Scrushy was indicted in 2005 along with former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and two former Siegelman aides on corruption charges. The case is set to go to trial in Montgomery, the state capital which is in the Middle District of Alabama, at the end of April. Scrushy and the other defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the indictment because the District has a 30% African-American population but the jury pool is less than that figure, although a government witness testified that African-Americans made up 21% of the pool, which meets the requirements of federal law. Even if Scrushy does not win this motion -- and it is very difficult to establish such a violation for grand jury selection -- he can still challenge the pool of jurors available for selection to the petit jury, although a Sixth Amendment claim would also be very difficult to win because Supreme Court precedent does not require that the actual jury reflect the racial or ethnic composition of the District. An AP story (here) discusses the hearing on Scrushy's challenge to the indictment.
On an related topic, Scrushy recently began running his television program Viewpoint in Montgomery. The program features a number of local ministers, and began running in Birmingham in 2004 around the time he was indicted there on fraud charges related to HealthSouth. Scrushy denies that there is any connection between the location of the next prosecution, assuming it survives the motion to dismiss, and the decision to run the show in Montgomery. Instead, it is part of a plan to roll out the program on a national basis, as noted in a Birmingham News story (here). Surely it is just a coincidence, although I doubt American Idol is particularly worried about its ratings. (ph)