Dothan Lawyer gets Last Laugh in Scrushy Case

Lance Griffin

The Dothan Eagle

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Jim Parkman said the law community in Washington, D.C., and New York laughed when indicted HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy ditched his Washington-based law firm and hired the Dothan lawyer to represent him in a landmark accounting fraud case.

Tuesday, Parkman wore a grin that seemed to stretch from the Hugo Black Federal Courthouse in Birmingham, down I-65 and U.S. 231 to Dothan after a jury acquitted Scrushy on all 36 counts.

“I wanted to show them you ain’t got to be from New York or Washington to practice law,” said Parkman, reached by phone shortly after the verdict was announced. “I feel vindicated to a degree.”

Parkman said he has been besieged with interview requests since the verdict, fielding calls from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other metropolitan newspapers. Parkman said he may appear on ABC’s Good Morning America later in the week.

Parkman said he “just about passed out” when the verdicts were read. He said he turned to Martin Adams, a lawyer in his Dothan firm and Scrushy’s son-in-law, and said ‘Is it over? Is it really over?'”

He said he believed the difference in the case was sticking to a game plan. When Parkman took over the case from Washington attorney Abbe Lowell last fall, Parkman said he told Scrushy that the handling of the case “needed to be done a certain way.”

Parkman went on the attack throughout the lengthy trial, questioning the motives of several HealthSouth executives who testified against Scrushy. During closing arguments, Parkman unveiled a cartoon drawing of a pudgy rat carrying a wedge of cheese.

“That’s the prosecution’s case,” Parkman told the jury. “It has more holes in it than swiss cheese.”

“We had a game plan and we rode that horse and didn’t get off of it,” he said Tuesday. “We didn’t change mid-stream. I thought we did a good enough job to get a full acquittal, but you just don’t know what you’re going to get from a jury.”

Parkman had planned to take a lengthy vacation following the trial, but he may begin work soon on another high-profile case in Memphis, Tenn. He recently spoke with former Tennessee state senator John Ford who resigned last month after authorities said an FBI sting caught him taking payoffs and threatening a witness. He recently pleaded innocent to all charges and is seeking an attorney for the trial, set to begin July 5.

Ford, a Democrat, is the brother of Harold Ford, who served 11 terms in Congress, and the uncle of Rep. Harold Ford Jr.

Ford, a member of the Senate for more than 30 years, and several other defendants were arrested last month following a sting operation nicknamed “Tennessee Waltz.”

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