Scrushy asks Fuller to recuse himself

Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2009

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy has asked U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller to recuse himself from considering Scrushy’s motion for a new trial in his bribery case.

Scrushy and former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman were convicted in 2006 of bribery and other charges in a federal government corruption case presided over by Fuller. Scrushy filed a motion Friday seeking a new trial, alleging selective prosecution and other issues.

One of those issues was misconduct by some jurors, who allegedly exchanged e-mails during the trial, in violation of Fuller’s instructions. Scrushy contends Fuller should step aside from hearing the new trial motion because he participated in a meeting with government officials, undisclosed to the defense, about the alleged juror e-mails.

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“Chief Judge Fuller is a material witness in this proceeding, and has personal knowledge of evidentiary facts placed in dispute. Therefore he must disqualify himself,” the motion said.

Fuller, the chief federal district judge in the Middle District of Alabama, sentenced Scrushy to almost seven years in federal prison and Siegelmam to more than seven years.

Fuller on Monday issued orders asking federal prosecutors to file responses by July 27 to Scrushy’s motion for a new trial and to his motion, filed later Friday, asking the judge to recuse himself.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year turned down Scrushy’s appeal of his conviction. It upheld much of the conviction against Siegelman, but threw out two charges and ordered a new sentence for the former governor.

Attorneys for Siegelman and Scrushy have said they plan to appeal the 11th Circuit ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.