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Federal appeals court denies new trial for ex-HealthSouth CEO

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] on Monday denied [opinion, PDF] a new trial for former chief executive officer of HealthSouth [corporate website] Richard Scrushy [personal website]. The decision upheld Scrushy's 2006 conviction of exchanging $500,000 with former Alabama governor Don Siegelman [personal profile; JURIST news archive] for a seat on Alabama's Certificate of Need Review Board [official website]. Scrushy was appealing a 2009 denial of his motion for a new trial, and recusal of the trial judge arguing that the "rulings constituted an abuse of discretion." The Eleventh Circuit ruled on five of the six grounds on which Scrushy sought a new trial. Among the claims denied was the assertion by Scrushy that the prosecution's failure to disclose a juror's romantic interest in a FBI special agent involved in the case was "prosecutorial misconduct." The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the allegation, stating that, "the assertion that a mere expression of attraction would infect the jury's decision with bias strains credulity." Scrushy was released from federal custody in July 2012.

In 2011 the Eleventh Circuit reversed [JURIST report] two bribery charges against Siegelman and Scrushy. In 2010 the US Supreme Court vacated the 2006 judgments [JURIST report] against Siegelman and Scrushy. Their cases were remanded to the Eleventh Circuit for proceedings consistent with the court's ruling in Skilling v. United States [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. Siegelman and Scrushy were convicted in 2006 on federal bribery and corruption charges. The convictions were appealed, and Siegelman had two counts of mail fraud reversed for lack of evidence. The court of appeals later denied a request [JURIST report] by Siegelman and Scrushy for an en banc rehearing of their convictions on charges of corruption.

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