BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Jurors in the fraud trial of fired HealthSouth Corp. CEO Richard Scrushy (search) told the judge Tuesday they couldn't reach a verdict and needed an explanation "in layman terms."
The message came in a three-sentence note passed to U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre (search) during the fourth day of deliberations.
The handwritten note said: "We cannot unanimously agree on a verdict. We need an explanation in layman terms. We would like your explanation in private if possible."
Jurors didn't say what they needed explained, and the judge sent back a message asking them to clarify. She also said a private meeting wasn't possible "because the parties, who have a vested interest in the case, have the right to be present whenever I communicate with you about the case."
The note marked the second time the jury had raised the possibility of a deadlock in written messages to the judge.
Jurors got the case last week after hearing dozens of witnesses over 3 1/2 months.
The jury is deliberating the first 36 counts against Scrushy. The panel will deliberate 12 additional forfeiture counts if Scrushy is found guilty in the first phase.
Scrushy is the first chief executive charged under the Sarbanes-Oxley (search) corporate reporting law. He also is accused of conspiracy, fraud, false reporting and money laundering.
Prosecutors claim Scrushy led a huge fraud at the rehabilitation chain from 1996 through 2002. The defense blames the accounting scheme on former subordinates, including 15 one-time HealthSouth executives who pleaded guilty.