Jacksonville, FL - Twelve jurors will decide the future of former Congresswoman Corrine Brown- and they’ll be selected from a group of 65 in a two-day process starting Monday.
Last July, Brown and her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons were indicted in a federal fraud case centered on the group “One Door For Education”- which prosecutors say Brown and others represented as a non-profit to solicit donations, but used the more than $800,000 they collected for personal expenses instead. Prosecutors say the trio used Brown’s position as a Congresswoman to promote the group and solicit donations, without One Door having ever been registered as a charity.
Simmons and third alleged co-conspirator, Carla Wiley, have previously pleaded guilty. Brown faces a total of 22 charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and more. The jury must reach a unanimous decision in order to convict.
WOKV will be in the federal courthouse through the proceedings, which start Monday for two days of jury selection. The trial is slated to start Wednesday and expected to last two weeks.
Court records show the 65 people who have been summoned as prospective jurors have already been initially screened by the court for hardship. They have been randomly numbered, and that randomized list of names- and the corresponding juror number- has already been distributed to the attorneys for both sides.
Jury selection will begin with the judge outlining the nature of the case and questioning the prospective jurors. That process can include questions which have been submitted by the attorneys, at the judge’s discretion.
Federal court records show the US Attorney’s Office has submitted proposed instructions and questions for jury selection. The instructions include reinforcing that their decision should be based on evidence alone and not sympathy or prejudice for the defendant, explaining the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and not all possible doubt, how to consider the credibility of a witness, and the meaning of the various charges. The questions include whether the prospective jurors know anyone involved, have any issue with the nature of the charges, have ever been involved in legal proceedings in any capacity, have any impression of the federal government, have any bias against plea agreements, have any political views that could influence the verdict, and more.
After questioning, the panel will be excused while attorneys first raise any challenges “for cause”, and then issue “peremptory” strikes, which don’t have to have a cause. The defense has ten peremptory strikes, while the US Attorney’s Office has six, according to the court records.
Ultimately, twelve jurors will be seated through this process, which works down the list based on the randomly assigned juror numbers. The next two jurors on the list who weren’t seated on the panel will be slated as the alternates- with each side getting one peremptory challenge to exercise on the alternates.
WOKV will have comprehensive coverage through jury selection and the trial proceedings. Check back frequently at WOKV.com for updates.