JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Corrine Brown's attorney says he needs more time to file a motion for a new trial for the convicted congresswoman after hearing what one of the jurors told the media about what went on in the jury room.
Brown was convicted last week on 18 federal charges, including fraud and tax evasion, but juror No. 3 told the I-TEAM that the verdicts might not have been reached if one of the jurors hadn't told Judge Timothy Corrigan something that got juror No. 13 removed from the panel.
Juror No. 8 told the court that juror No. 13 had made comments about Brown and “higher beings,” but according to the unsealed transcript from the closed hearing, when Corrigan asked juror No. 13, a Middleburg Navy veteran, if he said a “higher being” told him Brown was not guilty on all the charges, the juror responded; “No, I said the Holy Spirit told me that.”
After interviewing both jurors, Corrigan decided juror No. 13 needed to be dismissed, and an alternate was seated, despite Smith's objections.
But juror No. 3 told News4Jax that No. 13 had also said that he believed the evidence backed up his not guilty vote. She said before juror No. 13 was dismissed, the two of them had been the lone holdouts for a not guilty verdict, but after he was removed without any explanation given to the jury about his dismissal, she felt intimated and changed her vote to guilty.
“I don't think that's fair. At one point, Corrine was going to walk, and at another point, she is convicted of 18 counts, and that is all because of one person's doing,” the juror said. “No, I don't think that's fair."
Attorney James Smith filed a motion Monday asking the court for an extension to the deadline for filing post-trial motions, including motions for a new trial, motion for judgment of acquittal and a motion asking for permission to interview juror 3.
“Originally, the motion for a new trial was going to be based solely upon the information provided to the court by juror No. 8 and juror No. 13 (during the hearing that ended with juror No. 13's dismissal),” Smith said. “However, in light of what juror No. 3 has said not once, but twice in publicly aired interviews, I need time to interview her and to see whether or not what she says in the interview is relevant to any motion for new trial.”
The motion for an extension requests two more weeks to file those motions. Smith's current deadline for filing post-trial motions is 15 days from the day Brown was convicted on May 11.
In the extension motion, Smith cites the length of the trial and the fact transcripts aren’t available as the reason for needing more time. Prosecutors are not opposed.
Smith said he has always considered Corrigan to be a fair judge and that he believes when presented with the case law and arguments for a new trial, Corrigan will “do the right thing.”
Even if Corrigan grants Smith more time to file a motion, it does not mean the motion will be granted.
He also said he was disturbed by what he's heard so far from juror No. 3 in the news.
“Regardless of what people think about (Corrine Brown's) guilt or her innocence, I think everyone would agree that if what juror No. 3 said is true, no one would believe that the process was fair,” Smith said. “I think the best way I want people to think about it is this: If you were to be tried by a jury like that, would you feel comfortable, would you feel that justice was done? And I think the universal answer would be, 'No.'”
Legal experts told News4Jax that Brown will likely receive five to seven years in prison and could receive additional time for not taking accountability for her crimes of corruption, tax evasion and fraud.