Jacksonville, FL — The US Attorney has filed two motions in response to former Congressman Corrine Brown’s pursuit of a new trial.
Brown was found guilty on 18 of 22 federal charges. Her attorney says Brown's Sixth Amendment right to a jury of her peers and to a unanimous verdict were violated with the removal of a juror during deliberations. An alternate juror was seated, and the verdicts were rendered about a day and a half later.
FULL COVERAGE: The federal case of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown
In its response, the Acting US Attorney Stephen Muldrow says the self-serving view of the facts is belied by the record, which supports the Court’s decision to strike Juror 13, and the Court should deny the motion. And he says the Court was well within its discretion to remove the juror based on a finding that there was no substantial possibility that the juror could render a verdict determined solely on the facts and the law.
In a separate motion, the US Attorney’s Office opposes Brown’s request for a judgment of acquittal.
Motion for a new trial
WOKV was in the courtroom throughout the trial, including a hearing after a day and a half of jury deliberations where District Judge Timothy Corrigan told attorneys that a juror had contacted him about concerns with another juror. While much of the nature of that juror's concerns were initially discussed in a closed session of court, WOKV has since obtained the transcript, which shows Juror 13 had said at the outset of deliberations that the "Holy Spirit" told him Brown was not guilty on all charges.
Juror 13 was questioned by Corrigan and told the court he believed he was following instructions to consider the evidence presented at trial and the law as instructed. He further said his religious or moral believes were not interfering with his ability to decide the case as instructed. The juror who initially raised a concern to the court even said Juror 13’s statements weren’t getting in the way of the deliberations, according to the transcript.
Corrigan carefully worded his ruling in his decision to remove that Juror 13, saying sincerely held religious beliefs and prayers for guidance are not ground for dismissal, but Juror 13 making the statement that he did before the deliberations took hold show inconsistencies with the instructions. Corrigan also noted that Juror 13 said specifically that the “Holy Spirit” had directed him on the verdict.
Corrigan ruled that, while it seemed Juror 13 was “very earnest, very sincere” in his belief and attempt to follow the court’s instructions, his statement about the “Holy Spirit” directing his verdict was a “disqualifying statement”. That further led to the conclusion that there was “no substantial possibility” the juror could follow the court’s instructions and that he using an “external force” in his decision making.
Case in review
Brown was convicted on May 11th of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud, and seven counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud in connection to her soliciting money for a sham charity organization called "One Door For Education". Prosecutors argued Brown, her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons, and One Door President Carla Wiley raised money for the group, but used the funds for personal expenses and lavish events.
Brown was also convicted of engaging in a scheme to conceal material facts, corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the due administration of internal revenue law, and three counts of filing a false tax return- generally involving Brown not reporting income she received from One Door and over reporting her charitable contributions.
Sentencing dates have not yet been set for any of the three, with all remaining out of prison as the court proceedings continue.