BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A judge on Monday delayed the corporate fraud trial of fired HealthSouth (search) CEO Richard Scrushy (search) by one week, granting his attorneys additional time to sort through potential evidence recently turned over by prosecutors.
In a brief order, U.S. District Judge Karon O. Bowdre said she "reluctantly" agreed to the request "for good cause shown and in the interest of justice."
Bowdre rescheduled opening statements for Jan. 25. The order came as Bowdre and attorneys in the case met behind closed doors to begin eliminating potential jurors.
Scrushy has pleaded not guilty to charges he was behind a conspiracy to overstate HealthSouth Corp. earnings by more than $2.6 billion from 1996 through 2002. He is accused of fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, money laundering and false corporate reporting.
The defense last week sought the delay of opening statements initially scheduled for Jan. 18. Scrushy lawyers said it was needed because the government turned over thousands of pages of documents containing potential evidence right before trial.
"We appreciate the judge's consideration in granting another week to deal with all the discovery material," said Scrushy spokesman Charlie Russell.
Prosecutors, who did not file papers opposing the brief postponement, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Jury selection began last week with about 300 people completing lengthy questionnaires designed to gauge their knowledge of the case and attitudes toward Scrushy. Final jury selection is set for Thursday.