Update: Siegelman, Scrushy Get to See Family Members

MONTGOMERY, Ala., June 30, 2007 --  Sunday brought another chance for visitors for former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

Scrushy sentencing attorney Carmen Hernandez visited Scrushy on Sunday:

"Richard is trying to make the best of a very difficult situation.  He feels blessed that he is being held close enough to home that his children and wife have had an opportunity to visit with him.  The loss  to a child of a father imprisoned is very difficult and each day those children are away from Richard is a day they can never recover.  But it was touching to see the Richard Scrushy that Leslie described on the stand as he rocked his youngest to sleep for a nap during the visit and to see his other children crawling all over their dad.  But it was sad to see the children's faces as they asked why he couldn't come home with them. "

Former Governor Don Siegelman and Scrushy were allowed visits by members of their families on Saturday, according to Siegelman sentencing attorney Susan James.

James tells wsfa.com that Lori Siegelman and the former governor's brother were allowed to visit.  She advised that members of the Scrushy family were there to see Mr. Scrushy as well.  Scrushy visited with his wife, Leslie, and perhaps some of the children.  These were the first visits for the men.

Scrushy sentencing attorney Carmen Hernandez says she did not meet with Scrushy Saturday but was sure Saturday's family visit "buoyed his spirits."

James says Siegelman was "upbeat and planning ahead for vindication."  She says she originally thought he would not be allowed to have visitors other than his attorneys for the first 30 days, but "apparently because they are in a non-designated status they are being treated more like detainees..."

Siegelman, according to James, says everyone has been extremely nice to him, but it is a penitentiary and food is distributed on a schedule.  Asked how he was finding the food, James says Siegelman just gave her a look and didn't comment one way or the other.

His attorney says the former governor has limited reading material, perhaps only a Bible, in his cell.  She did not get to see the cell where he is being kept.

Siegelman is being housed in the newer part of the federal facility in Atlanta, known by some as simply, "The Penn."  James says that part of the 1930s prison is about 8-10 years old.

Siegelman is being housed in what James termed a "special housing unit."  "I think they're getting an hour of recreation a day and they are escorted to and from everywhere they go.  Their mail is scrutinized and censored.  Their telephone calls are recorded."

James says Siegelman seemed "very focused to me, unemotional.  We talked about every aspect of the case and the next steps and issues related to confinement."

Siegelman is "very close" to some more hardened inmates "and he has had some interaction with other inmates...From my experience, there are people convicted of far more serious crimes than his that he has interacted with," says James.

She says Siegelman and Scrushy are "getting along."  But James adds, "They really weren't friends before but by virtue of the circumstances, they've been thrown together."

She says she believes there are bathroom facilities in Siegelman's cell.  She says the inmates aren't allowed to mix legal and social visits so attorneys have to meet with the client before or after the family.  In today's case, James met Siegelman before his family visited.

She says generally the Bureau of Prisons tries to locate prisoners within 500 miles of their eventual point of release, which in Siegelman's case would be Montgomery, but there are overriding factors.  For example, Siegelman nor Scrushy would be placed in a facility where a government witness, such as Lanny Young, was located.  James said earlier, unless released on bond, that Siegelman would be looking at being there at least 30 days.

The emergency motion for an appeal bond will be filed either Monday or Tuesday at the latest.  She says it's hard to tell what the 11th Circuit will do, but she believes Siegelman can meet the standard required of "substantial issues" which could result in the overturning of the case on appeal.

Reported by:  Helen Hammons