How close did Corrine Brown come to a hung jury?

Former congresswoman convicted of 18 felony counts

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter , Jim Piggott - Reporter , Jennifer Waugh - The Morning Show anchor, I-Team reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One juror who sat on the panel that found former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown guilty of 18 of 22 counts against her said he is still processing the trial, the three days of turbulent deliberations and the fallout from Thursday's verdict.

That juror did not want to be identified, but gave News4Jax a glimpse inside the jury room.

That juror confirmed that Juror 13, the retired Navy man from Middleburg removed from the case two days into deliberations, was not going to convict Brown. The juror we spoke with said Juror 13 was heard telling other members of the panel, "The Holy Spirit told him Corrine Brown was innocent."

Juror 8 broke court protocol by calling U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan's secretary to say what she had heard and voice concerns. That juror, who works in real estate in Jacksonville, also wrote a letter to the judge about it.

Legal experts said that if she was truly concerned, proper procedure would have been to alert the jury foreperson during courthouse hours and the foreperson could have decided if the judge needed to be involved. Instead, Corrigan's secretary told him and a closed, emergency hearing with prosecutors and defense attorneys was held.

Over the objections of defense attorney James Smith, Juror 13 was removed and replaced with an alternate. Corrigan sealed the record of the hearing.

In open court, Corrigan would not talk directly about what the dismissed juror said, only that it involved a "higher power" and Corrine Brown, and that another juror brought it to the court's attention.

That juror's holdout could have resulted in a mistrial instead of 18 felony convictions.

Smith was barely out of the courthouse after the verdict when he announced he would ask for another trial. Legal experts said that the juror's removal was unusual and will likely be grounds for Smith's motion for a new trial. That motion would be heard by Corrigan, who is very respected for his decisions on the bench, experts said.

It's not known if or when Corrigan will unseal the record so people will learn the legal basis that was used to remove Juror 13, potentially changing the outcome of Brown's trial.

The juror who spoke to News4Jax said a handful of the jury members felt that Brown honestly didn't know about the money funneled out of One Door for Education, the bogus charity that the government said funded lavish parties, shopping trips and even cash withdrawals to Brown and her close associates.

The panel wanted everyone to be sure, which led to several questions the jury posed to the judge about evidence in the final hours of deliberations. The juror said those answers helped the panel reach unanimous decisions.

That could explain why Brown was acquitted on four counts -- two counts each of mail and wire fraud transactions that she talked about specifically on the stand. In those four instances, all 12 jurors believed her.

Copyright 2017 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.