Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Gloves Are Off in the Scrushy-Siegelman Case

The hard-fought corruption prosecution of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is taking an even uglier turn over the latest issue of juror e-mails.  As discussed in an earlier post (here), the defense received what it claimed were two more e-mail messages between jurors showing alleged improprieties during the deliberations that support the request for a new trial.  According to a detailed review (here) of the latest salvos by television station WSFA in Montgomery, the e-mails were sent anonymously to a number of media outlets in addition to the defense lawyers.  The government has responded to the latest defense filings by insinuating that the defendants created the e-mails.  An assistant U.S. Attorney is quoted as stating, "If we had to satisfy every convicted criminal in their effort to escape responsibility for their actions, there would be no point in having any laws.  They got a fair trial.  They elected not to testify...There's no need to run down that rat trail in all likelihood manufactured by one of these defendants."  Defense counsel responded, "We say to the DOJ why don't you stop jawing about your speculations and figure out whether there is a basis for your slanderous remarks?  The reason - and the whole world can see it -- is because you know that if the emails are authentic the defendants will be entitled to a new trial. No slander -- no rhetoric -- simple, hard facts."  The war of words is unlikely to sway Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller, who rejected the earlier new trial motion.  The appellate brief probably just got a little bit longer. (ph -- with a correction on the source of the AUSA's statement)

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