77ºF

Government responds to convicted ex-council members' request for new trial

Katrina Brown, Reggie Brown convicted of dozens of federal charges

Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown enter U.S. District Courthouse in Jacksonville.
Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown enter U.S. District Courthouse in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As expected, the U.S. Attorney's Office has asked a judge to deny motions for a new trial made earlier this month by convicted former Jacksonville City Council members Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown.

The jury found the two Browns -- who are not related -- skimmed money from nearly $3 million between a federally backed loan and a city grant to a Jacksonville barbecue sauce business. Katrina Brown was found guilty on all 37 counts she faced and Reggie Brown was found guilty on 33 of 34 counts he faced.

Katrina Brown argued a mistrial should have been granted over assertions made in opening statements by Reggie Brown's lawyer. The government said opening statements are not evidence for the jury to consider, which is a standard jury instruction.

Reggie Brown's lawyer told the jury he would testify in the trial, but the defendant changed his mind, as the trial went on. In its response to the motion, federal prosecutors wrote: "Reginald Brown chose to paint himself as a victim of Katrina Brown's scheme.  That strategy did not require Reginald Brown to testify.  While the strategy did not work, it was a reasonable strategic shift that he had the right to make based upon how the evidence developed and the weight of the evidence against Katrina Brown.  As such, this Court properly denied a mistrial and should not grant a new trial." 

In its response, the government called into question Katrina Brown's decision to represent herself, saying:  "While Katrina Brown conducted herself cordially, her trial strategy and advocacy were below novice level."

As for Reggie Brown's motion, the government responded it's basically what was presented in closing arguments. The government said "the evidence… was substantial in this case," and that's why the jury convicted both defendants.