Tuesday, April 30, 2013

After Serving Six Years In Prison For a Non-Crime, Scrushy Wishes He Had Testified In Siegelman Case

Richard Scrushy
Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy says he wishes he had taken the stand in his own defense during the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

"Absolutely, I regret it," Scrushy said when asked in a recent radio interview about not taking the stand. Scrushy told San Francisco-based radio host Peter B. Collins that he was faced with a number of valid reasons for not taking the stand. But after serving six years in federal prison for a "crime" that the public record shows he did not commit, Scrushy said he would do it much differently today.

As for Siegelman, he was released from prison during the appellate process, but with his appeals exhausted, he has resided in a federal prison at Oakdale, Louisiana, since last September 11. Speaking in his first interview about the Siegelman case, Scrushy used the word "sick" several times to describe the process that led to unlawful convictions.

"You have a governor locked up who didn't do anything wrong," Scrushy said. "I spent six years in prison for something I didn't do wrong. This is America, and we have a constitution . . . "

One constitutional principle is that criminal defendants have the right to remain silent--and they often are advised not to take the stand at trial. Criminal defense lawyers tend to follow a maxim that goes something like this: "Do not take the stand to defend a case that has not been proven."

Defense lawyers in the Siegelman/Scrushy case apparently felt certain the prosecution had failed to prove its case. Our review of the public record has shown that prosecutors did not come close to proving a case under the applicable law. But somehow, the jury saw it differently--with the help of flawed instructions from U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller--and found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Scrushy still can't figure out how that happened:

There was no case. My lawyers looked at me and said this is a criminal case--beyond a reasonable doubt--and they've not put on one shred of  evidence that you ever cut a check, that you gave [Siegelman] anything, that you ever had a meeting . . . There was no case against us, nothing. It was a joke.
In the closing arguments, when the prosecutors got up, they said . . . you've got to imagine these deals are cut in a back room with cigars and martinis . . . you have to imagine these things . . . I thought it was about facts. We showed that I didn’t cut a check, we didn't have a meeting, there was no bribe, no benefit. . . . We thought the jury got it, but apparently they didn’t.

Particularly exasperating was the testimony of former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey, who prosecutors coached and threatened, according to a number of sworn statements. Bailey stated that he saw Siegelman holding a $250,000 check after exiting a meeting with Scrushy. Evidence showed the check in question was written after the date of the alleged meeting, so Siegelman could not have been holding it. But the jury convicted anyway. Said Scrushy:

This is critical, and I don't understand how the jury missed this. Nick said he saw the check on such a date in June . . . and he knew it was from me because he saw my signature on it. . . .  Well, I never gave the governor a check, and I didn't have a meeting with him, and we proved that. . . . The check was written on like July 19, a month and half later, from another company, and I never signed the check.

We brought the CEO from the other company down and put him on the stand, and said, "Is it possible that this check could have been written in June?" And he said . . . no, it's impossible. That whole story was totally made up.

How the jury could find . . . there was no check that I signed, and the date didn’t work, and the guy testified that it came from their company, it didn't come from me. I don't know how the jury connected those dots. They weren't paying attention. They slept through it, I guess.

I thought it was over with. When I heard that testimony, I said, "Well, that's it."

Scrushy and Siegelman wound up suffering because Bailey's testimony was not just a little off--it was deeply, fatally, almost comically flawed. After poking monstrous holes in testimony of the government's star witness, defense lawyers almost certainly saw little to be gained from Scrushy and Siegelman taking the stand. Taking the stand, under such circumstances, can be filled with peril. Says Scrushy:

When you get on the stand, because I had been through the difficulty in the HealthSouth trial, the lawyers thought, "They are going to muddy the water and bring all of that up again, and we really don't need to introduce all of that into this case. We should be able to go into closing and show there is no evidence against you. . . . " I didn’t mind getting on the stand, and I had prepared to go on the stand, and today, I wish I had of.

Republican Bob Riley followed Siegelman into the governor's office, and Scrushy did not mention Riley by name during the Collins interview. But Scrushy clearly is disturbed that Riley and his associates have largely escaped scrutiny for numerous questionable actions before and after the Siegelman prosecution. He also is disturbed by the corrupting influence that national Republican figures, such as Karl Rove and Jack Abramoff, have had on Alabama:

As I look back on it, it’s so much deeper [than people realize]. If anybody brought to the surface all of the activities of the governor that came in [after Siegelman] . . . it’s a very sick story for the state of Alabama and for this country. The way money flowed, the people who pocketed millions, and how they did it . . . and they wouldn’t have done it if Siegelman had been in there. . . . It is so deep; it goes all the way up to Washington, not just Alabama. . . .

I don’t know all of the details . . . I'm trying to piece it together . . . but it looks to me that there was so much opportunity through the Republicans and their relationship with [Abramoff], and Siegelman as governor would have destroyed their plans.

You've got to take a look at the people who were elected [in place of Siegelman] and follow the money to all of those folks. I lie awake at night and think, "How did they get away with it? Why has no one uncovered all of that filth?"

Scrushy has served his time, but he still has a pending appeal before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit, seeking documents that he says will prove judicial, prosecutorial, and juror misconduct in the case:

I’ve got to move on with my life; I've got nine children, and a beautiful wife and a lot of things I want to accomplish in my life. But this is just sitting there, and it needs to be dealt with. A lot of people have mud on them, and they are running around free as birds, and they've done very bad things. I believe we should shine light on this, and these people should come clean. . . .

I think it’s good for people in this country to understand that we have problems with our judicial system, we have problems with our politicians. The average guy walking the street doesn’t realize the corruption [is out there]. I don't think there is anything wrong with pointing it out whenever we have that opportunity.

Previously in the series:

Richard Scrushy: Convictions In The Siegelman Case Are Grounded In A Former Aide's Flawed Testimony (April 8, 2013)

Feds Promised To Release Scrushy From Prosecution If He Provided False Testimony Against Siegelman (April 9, 2013)

Siegelman Case Involved No "Meeting Of The Minds," But Scrushy Still Spent Six Years In Federal Prison (April 18, 2013)


Anonymous said...

Mephistopheles to Faust: "The Devil people never sense, Though he may hold them by the collar." I don't expect much from humanity, but the depth of the ignorance of the Siegelman-Scrushy jury is downright damnable.

Anonymous said...

Many Americans still seem to hold to the notion that our jury system somehow is sacrosanct. They need to learn a little about this case, and it should change their minds.

Anonymous said...

Boy, do I ever wish Scrushy and Siegelman both had taken the stand. What a tragedy that they let Nick Bailey's story go unrebutted--at least in the sense that the defendants themselves didn't rebut it.

Anonymous said...

Would Mark Fuller have figured out a way to screw the defendants anyway? Would he have somehow disallowed much of their testimony? This goose was cooked from the outset, and I'm not sure testimony from Siegelman and Scrushy was going to change it.

Dog Day said...

Wild horses couldn't have kept me off that stand.

Owen said...

This is amazing. I never realized the defense put up a witness who showed that Bailey's story could not be true. I remember hearing about the wrong date regarding the check after the trial. But I didn't know it was proven during the trial. That jury still voted to convict? Either they are dumb as tree stumps or someone bought and paid for them.

Spasmoda said...

Does anyone remember if the MSM reported at the time on the CEO's testimony about Bailey's check story? I followed the case fairly closely, and I don't remember reading this at the time. It's possible I missed it. It's also possible the Alabama MSM didn't report it.

Anonymous said...

At one time, I didn't much care for Richard Scrushy, and I always hated that Don Siegelman got involved with him. But I'm sort of starting to admire Scrushy now. Perhaps he has been humbled by all he has been through, but he seems like a pretty stand-up guy as he gets older.

Pistol Pete said...

This story needs to go national. Thanks to you and Peter B. Collins for getting it out there. And hats off to Richard Scrushy for speaking out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Scrushy. We do have a "sick" society, and it shows up clearly in our courtrooms.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that part of the plan was to make Bailey's testimony so shaky that Siegelman/Scrushy would feel no need to personally rebut it by taking the stand? Then, with a crooked judge and tainted jury in place, you get convictions without the defendants standing up for themselves.

Anonymous said...

I can understand why defendants were concerned about the HealthSouth criminal case coming up. Seems to me that such questioning shouldn't have been allowed. That accounting scandal, best I can tell, was irrelevant to the Siegelman case. And Scrushy could have answered any question by saying, "I was acquitted in HealthSouth case." But Fuller surely would have allowed prosecutors to go there.

The Bohemian Gazette said...

So how do the people of Alabama get an investigation into the activities of Mark Fuller? Everything I've seen, so far, suggests that he should be investigated for corruption:







Anonymous said...

I love the part about prosecutors telling the jury that you have to "imagine" these deals being cut with cigars and martinis. Fuller allowed it, and the jury bought it. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

You know what... I believe him.. I truly believe he and the Governor are INNOCENT.

Anonymous said...

We need professional jurors.. Not the ignorant rednecks that they put on the jury that can not see their hands in front of them much less the truth. If he had intelligent folk on the jury maybe this kind of thing would not happen. They could see right through the lies.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 3:10--

Good point. And we also need professional judges, who are trained specifically for that role. What we have now for judges are lawyers who happen to be politically connected enough to get elected or appointed. That doesn't mean they are even good lawyers, much less good candidates to be a judge. Judges and lawyers should train and work in totally separate spheres, instead of belonging to same bar associations, etc. Judges should be trained to be judges; they shouldn't be lawyers who happen to find themselves wearing robes.

jeffrey spruill said...

Subjectivity reins supreme in the courtrooms of America.

Facts. What are they but nagging little distractions.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III thinks facts are nagging little distractions when it comes to the Thursday-December7,2006 US Attorneys firings:

Notice the Friday-December1,2006 dates.


It is imperative that I speak with you directly in order to prepare your defense for trial, now scheduled for "December 1,2006."I would encourage you to reconsider your position in this matter and allow me to speak with you as soon as possible.

With best regards, I am
Terence P. Martin
Asst. Public Defender


Unknown said...

Thank you Mr. Journalist America.

The court system, in my discovery, was an intentional gulag set to get the innocent locked up while the criminals run the insane asylum.

Don't believe me? Look at the USA since the Bush Crime Family took the country to where we are.

Yes it has been a long time coming, the Bush Family is simply one of the top crime operations and has been since the first bad apple fell from the rotten tree.

Thinking they're European Royalty and get to own America because that is how history was written, correct?

No, that is the problem. History is not taught in the USA and Sandra Day O'Connor's new software selling BS for "civics" isn't what we need.

We need the Sandra Day O'Connors to not take our right to vote away, and then we need the system of "counselors of law" to be what the US Constitution intended, we are all self representing as our own "AG," it is called by Special Appearance AND should S & S have gone in and demanded their Bill of Rights' IE self-representation as "Special Appearance", then the talk now would be quite different.


Sui Juris: The Truth in the Record

Pam Gaston was killed by the "Ninth Circuit"? Or, the Oregon criminals killed her. She was far too sophisticated in the FAMILY COURT in Oregon, took the state all the way to the hell that was caused for 'children' in Oregon, HUGE pedophile ring via gov. NEIL GOLDSCHMIDT has not been found guilty of the crime of pedophilia, he said and the Oregonian printed too: "an unfortunate affair."

Sick? America? Please.

Pam got poisoned while waiting three (3) years for the decision which found her husband and her INNOCENT of all charges brought by the State of OR against them, for child pedophilia. It was the state itself and videos to prove.

Legal Schnauzer you are incredibly brilliant.

Unknown said...

I have also been convicted of a crime I did not do. For, some of the same reasoning my public defender advised me to not take the witness stand or testify in my own defense. There was not any piece of real evidence against me and there were witnesses stating sight of two
suspects fleeing the scece who were confirmed as not me, the defendant. The sole witness/victim testimony against me was hesitant to declare me the defendant as the assailant. I was at the scene hours earlier, but not involved in the crime or nearby at the critical time. Of course the witness was coerced after being medicated and such other coercion of counseling. Police Detectives are known to misuse Identification Protocol. Witnesses are proven to be quite uncredible.
Two years into my my sentencing a second police officer did raise issues in my favor in attempts to bring justice and appeal. These were smothered and never seen light. This officer had resigned from the force after grievances, and attempted to bring forth evidence he had discovered of the true assailants. The more senior officers discarded his memo's and statements preventing this evidence from being heard. The rest is obvious as the same type of loose assumptions and opinions which are not facts as you have mentioned in your posting.

Unknown said...

The prosecuting attorney may use a witness who is not an expert witness, yet has only some technical experience and who quotes some statistics which are professional sounding but not fact. In the case of statistics quoting, the numbers may show a, 70% to 30% ratio. The dumbed down jury will attach those numbers as evidence and fact.
Then select the 70% number as their choice of conclusion. For one example. !!