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Separate jury ruling may affect case of Siegelman

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a former Montgomery businessman's challenge over the racial makeup of the jury pool in a drug trafficking case, which could be a setback for former Gov. Don Siegelman and ex-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson's ruling on the
racial issue Monday allowed Leon Carmichael's 2005 drug trafficking conviction to
stand.

Carmichael, who is black, and Scrushy and Siegelman, who are white, all argued that the percentage of blacks in the 2001 jury pool — less than 20 percent — was not representative of the Middle District of Alabama, where the percentage of blacks is more than 30 percent.

The 2001 pool of jurors was the source of the jury that convicted Carmichael and the grand jury that indicted Scrushy and Siegelman.

Thompson accepted Magistrate Judge Delores Boyd's recommendation to deny Carmichael's challenge.

Louis Franklin, chief of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Montgomery, said he believes Monday's ruling means Scrushy and Siegelman's challenge will also be denied, the Montgomery Advertiser reported Tuesday.

"I have not seen two judges look at the same issue in the same district and give different opinions," Franklin said. "I know it has happened in other districts, but I've never seen it in this district."

Last week, U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller denied Siegelman and Scrushy's request for a new trial based on alleged juror misconduct. The judge is to rule separately on their challenge over the racial makeup of the jury pool, a challenge made at the start of the trial.

Carmichael, who operated an entertainment complex in Montgomery, will be sentenced in February. U.S. Attorney Leura Canary said Carmichael faces 30 years to life in prison.

———

Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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