May 26, 2005

More News from the Train Wreck

New note from jury indicates it's deadlocked

The jury in the Richard Scrushy trial sent a note to the judge this morning indicating it is deadlocked on the conspiracy charge against the HealthSouth founder.

The note says: “This question have (sic) been asked, but a simple yes or no to this count will let me know if their (sic) is a need to move on to the other counts. We cannot reach a unanimous decision on Count One Conspiracy.”

The note asks if their decision has to be unanimous and asks for an answer “so we can move on.”

U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre will address the jury this morning.

I believe there's more than one person feeling a bit sic right now.

There's still a lot the jury has to do besides the conspiracy count, but I sense a mistrial coming for some, if not all, of the charges. I think the American jury system is good, and better than the alternative of having "professional" jurors as some have advocated. But, you have to remember there are many folks in this town who respond well to two things: oily demogogues, and walking-around money. And it only takes one person so swayed to lock things up.

I had the same experience when I was on (civil) jury duty a few years back, when there were several folks who were absolutely immune to reason and logic. Just to look at them, you'd think nothing about them was amiss, but once deliberations got started--boy-howdy--the sheer lunacy of their thought process was frightening. It was a wrongful termination suit, and the plaintiff was serving as her own attorney, and although her story was pitiful, there was no evidence the company did anything wrong. In the jury room, one old codger was incensed when this was brought up, and said something to the effect of, "Well, if she was required to have that kind of evidence, then she'd lose!" ::blink::blink:: It was like watching the Witch Scene.

Anyway, I do hope that if any of the charges go to trial again, that whoever the judge is will have the good sense to recuse him or herself if that judge has any ties to the defendant's family, or feels the least bit whiny about taking on a hard case. Although there is some willful ignorance going on in the jury room, there is also some blame for the confusion about the law that has to be spread at the bench as well, and it might have been better had the judge passed the case on to a more experienced gavel.


Posted by Terry Oglesby at May 26, 2005 12:04 PM

My son sat on a criminal jury hearing a child abuse case where two young "pastors" had beaten a 12 year old boy nearly dead. A jury (who happened to be a high school social studies teacher) insisted that no one should ever go to jail the first time they were convicted. In Texas, the jury sets the sentence. Matt and another engineer wanted 99 years and held out for the final sentence of 54 years. The teacher rolled when she realized that she was going to be a long time in the room if she didn't agree to a prison sentence.

Posted by: Larry Anderson at May 26, 2005 12:45 PM

Sure would be nice if there was a similar incentive to reach a decision in cases like this.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at May 26, 2005 12:51 PM

The ones that bother me are those like the case in Atlanta where the guy was filmed shooting a couple of policemen and a judge. I suppose I am just not intelligent enough to understand why the trial is not over and the sucker hung, dead and buried. It's not as if there is any doubt he did it.

Posted by: Larry Anderson at May 26, 2005 01:17 PM