A breathless television news reporter rushed from the federal courthouse in Montgomery late Tuesday afternoon to report that the jurors in the alleged government corruption trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and deposed HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy were about to get in a fight since they could not reach a unaminous verdict.
It turned out a note from the jury foreman sent to U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller said the jurors were still unable to agree on a verdict and that some jury members were described as being “lackadaisical” and not participating in deliberations.
We suspect based on our experience covering trials that the facts will show later, when they all come out, that some of the black members of the jury, who will never vote for a conviction for Siegelman or Scrushy, were just ready to go home and give it up.
The prosecution made a serious mistake by trying Siegelman and Scrushy together with the former members of Siegelman’s cabinet, and by bringing down such a complicated 34-count indictment. They should have tried the aides first, then Scrushy, then Siegelman. And they should never have used the RICO statutes, designed to disrupt the Mafia, in such a case. I mean really. Who cares about mail fraud?
They were either guilty of a quid pro quo instance of bribery, or they were just doing business as usual in Montgomery. Either way, a hung jury and a mistrial is a travesty of justice. And the Bush Justice Department should be held accountable.
© 2006, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.