Judge Advises Siegelman Jury on Options

Siegelman's attorney, Vince Kilborn, leaves the courthouse.
Siegelman's attorney, Vince Kilborn, leaves the courthouse.

Things got a little interesting at Montgomery's federal courthouse Wednesday. Lawyers received a call around 11:30 a.m. advising them Judge Mark Fuller would hold a hearing at 1:00 p.m. The attorneys were not advised as to the purpose of the hearing.

Mack Roberts' attorney, David McKnight, was on the treadmill when he got the call.

Once inside the courthouse, some of the defense attorneys huddled in the downstairs cafeteria for a quick pow wow before making the journey to the courtroom.

Judge Fuller wasted no time in asking the jury to come into the courtroom.

Art Leach told WSFA 12, when you don't know why you're there and the judge turns to the marshal and asks the jury to come in "that'll make your heart skip a beat a little bit, wondering if he knows something we don't know."

Once the jury was seated, the judge went to work.

He started off by reminding the jurors of their role in the case and that this case was no more or less important than any other federal case.

The judge told the jury, the fact they were still deliberating was not unusual. He advised the jurors not to "give up their honest beliefs...because others think differently or to simply get this case over with..."

"This is a complicated case," the judge said.

Fuller advised the jury they have an option of delivering a partial verdict if necessary. However, he said he was not advising them to do so.

Judge Fuller told the jury if there were counts on which they had reached a unanimous verdit,  "it would be your duty to make your finding on those counts."

The judge told lawyer Jeff Deen this was not an Allen Charge to the jury. So David McKnight asked the judge how this charge came about. The judge told McKnight that he, Judge Fuller, believed he had not adequately advised the jury of this option earlier.

Defense lawyers seemed a bit perplexed at the charge agreeing they had not seen anything like this before without some communication from the jury to the judge.

Judge Fuller concluded his remarks by reminding the jury they could communicate with him at any time about any matter.

The judge overruled all objections from the defense.

All the lawyers (except those representing Richard Scrushy) went on their way. Scrushy's team huddled up in a room to talk about and research the judge's charge.

Reporter: Helen Hammons