updated 5/25/2005 6:16:19 PM ET 2005-05-25T22:16:19

Jurors in the trial of Richard Scrushy have sent notes to U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre indicating they are having a hard time deciding a conspiracy charge against the fired HealthSouth Corp. chief executive.

Here, based on Bowdre's initial instructions to the jury and her two responses to their questions, is what the panel must do to return a verdict on conspiracy, count No. 1 in the indictment and a catchall for other crimes that prosecutors say Scrushy committed:

Part one
To return a guilty verdict, the jury must agree that the government proved four elements beyond a reasonable doubt. As explained in Bowdre's instructions, those include:

"First: That the defendant with one or more persons, in some way or manner, came to a mutual understanding to try to accomplish a common and unlawful plan, as charged in the superseding indictment, and

"Second: That the defendant knew the unlawful purpose of the plan and willfully joined the plan; and

"Third: That during the course or the existence of the conspiracy, one of the members of the conspiracy knowingly committed at least one of the `overt acts' described in the superseding indictment ... and

"Fourth: That such `overt act' was knowingly committed at or about the time alleged in an effort to carry out or accomplish some object of the conspiracy."

If jurors unanimously agree that prosecutors didn't prove those four things, they can check "not guilty" on the verdict form, which is 37 pages long and covers 36 counts, and move on to the next count.

Part two
If jurors believe Scrushy committed all four of those elements, they then must decide which of 10 crimes Scrushy carried out during the conspiracy. Those offenses include mail fraud; wire fraud; bank fraud; making false statements to the government; certifying false financial statements; securities fraud; filing false financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission; causing false books or records to be maintained by HealthSouth; making false statements to outside auditors; and another securities fraud allegation. The panel must agree that Scrushy committed at least one of those acts to convict him of conspiracy.

Part three
If jurors believe prosecutors proved all four elements of a conspiracy and at least one of the crimes listed above, they must also determine he committed at least one of 41 "overt acts" mentioned in the indictment. Those acts include things like discussing the falsification of HealthSouth's financial statements with others and signing financial documents that included bogus numbers.

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