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Reggie Brown’s request for new defense attorney denied

Former City Council member scheduled to be sentenced next month

Sketch from hearing
Sketch from hearing (Steve Bridges)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two months after a federal jury found him guilty of 33 counts, including conspiracy, fraud and money laundering, former Jacksonville City Council member Reggie Brown’s request for a new defense attorney was denied, ahead of his sentencing.

Last year, Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown, who are not related, were indicted on charges stemming from a federally-backed loan and a city grant utilized by a barbecue sauce business owned by Katrina Brown’s family. A jury found that Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown both used some of the money for personal use. In October, Katrina Brown was convicted on all 37 counts she faced, and Reggie Brown was convicted on 33 of the 34 counts against him.

Since the court found Reggie Brown was not able to afford his own lawyer, attorney Thomas Bell was appointed to represent him. Bell represented Reggie Brown through the pretrial process, as well as through the trial.

In a motion filed Wednesday, Bell cites the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a choice of counsel, adding that it “requires effective assistance of counsel, which includes conflict-free counsel.” According to the motion, Reggie Brown believes a conflict exists and therefore requested a new attorney.

The motion asked the court to schedule a hearing to consider the reasons for that request. That hearing was scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday at the federal courthouse. After the two-hour hearing in the judge’s chambers, Reggie Brown’s request for a new lawyer was denied.

Sketch from hearing
Sketch from hearing (Steve Bridges)

Following their convictions, both Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown asked the court for a judgment of acquittal or a new trial. Those requests were denied. Katrina Brown filed those motions herself, having chosen this summer to represent herself at trial. Katrina Brown asked to waive representation by her two court-appointed attorneys, who had been appointed after Katrina Brown parted ways with her first court-appointed attorney in January over “irreconcilable differences.”

If the Browns choose to pursue further appeals of their convictions, that would be done through the 11th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, which is based in Atlanta.

Currently, the former council members are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 27.