updated 6/6/2005 4:46:53 PM ET 2005-06-06T20:46:53

Deadlocked jurors in the corporate fraud trial of HealthSouth Corp. founder and fired CEO Richard Scrushy deliberated an 11th day Monday without reaching a verdict.

With the extended talks bumping into other commitments, including vacation plans, a court official said the jury was scheduled to deliberate only one more day this week despite the judge urging them to make a unanimous decision and avoid a mistrial.

U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre ordered the jury to continue talks Monday after getting a note from the foreman on Friday saying the panel couldn’t make a unanimous decision on any of the 36 counts accusing Scrushy of orchestrating a $2.7 billion earnings overstatement.

The jury deliberated about 6-1/2 hours Monday without a decision, but chief deputy clerk Sharon Harris said jurors would take Tuesday off because two had a schedule conflict.

If no verdict comes Wednesday, Harris said, jurors won’t return until next Monday because at least two of them had “prepaid vacation plans” for Thursday and Friday. She said the exact number of jurors with commitments wasn’t clear.

Experts said the deadlock may eventually be broken by a special legal instruction that U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre gave jurors after they reported the deadlock last week. In the instruction, called an “Allen charge,” Bowdre told jurors a second jury wouldn’t be any more likely to reach a verdict than they are.

Former U.S. Magistrate John Carroll said he once presided in a trial where a similar charge yielded a verdict in an hour.

“An Allen charge lets the jury know, for the first time, what their failure to reach a verdict means: That there is likely to be a retrial and that another jury will be empaneled who will have to go through what they went through,” said Carroll, now dean of the law school at Samford University in suburban Birmingham.

Scrushy is the first chief executive officer accused of violating the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reporting law, passed three years ago after a string of business scandals. Besides conspiracy, Scrushy is accused of fraud, false reporting and money laundering.

Prosecutors say Scrushy led a huge accounting scheme at the chain of rehabilitation and medical-services centers over seven years beginning in 1996. The defense blames the fraud on Scrushy’s subordinates, including 15 one-time HealthSouth executives who pleaded guilty.

Scrushy, 52, could be fined millions and sentenced to the equivalent of life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors also are seeking $278 million in assets they claim are tied to the fraud.

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