JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Federal prosecutors filed court papers Wednesday in the hopes of discrediting an argument from Corrine Brown's attorney that a high-profile Supreme Court ruling is relevant to her appeal.
Brown, 71, is appealing her conviction on 18 federal counts of fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy tied to a sham charity that was used as a personal slush fund for the former congresswoman and others.
The appeal rests on the legitimacy of the decision to dismiss a juror during Brown's federal trial who said he believed the Holy Spirit had spoken to him during prayer, saying Brown was not guilty.
Attorney William Kent, who represents Brown, cited a recent Supreme Court ruling in the 2012 case of a Colorado baker who refused on religious grounds to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Specifically, Kent argued the court's instructions should have been handled in a way that did not “infringe on the juror's exercise of his right of freedom of religion under the First Amendment.”
While the Supreme Court found in that case a state panel violated the baker's First Amendment right to freedom of religion, federal prosecutors contend the high court's ruling does not apply to Brown's case.
Prosecutors argued that the court in Brown's case did not infringe on Juror 13's exercise of religion, but instead precluded him from remaining on the jury after learning he had violated jury instructions.
They also said the Supreme Court case was not relevant because the ruling contained very specific rationale.
Brown is currently serving a five-year sentence at a minimum-security federal prison camp in central Florida.