TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An attorney for former Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown is citing an opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in trying to get her conviction overturned on felony charges in a charity scam.
Brown, whose case is pending at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, contends that a juror was improperly dismissed from her trial after he made statements such as the “Holy Ghost” told him Brown was not guilty.
In a March 29 filing at the appeals court, Brown’s attorney cited a recent opinion by Kavanaugh in a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution because a Buddhist inmate was not allowed to have a spiritual adviser present in the execution room.
Kavanaugh, appointed to the Supreme Court last year by President Donald Trump, wrote a concurring opinion that said, in part, “governmental discrimination against religion -- in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech -- violates the Constitution. The government may not discriminate against religion generally or against particular religious denominations.”
In the March 29 filing, Brown’s attorney, William Mallory Kent, cited Kavanaugh’s opinion to try to bolster arguments that the dismissed juror’s First Amendment rights were violated because of his religious views.
“The defendant (Brown) was entitled to a jury empaneled without such constitutionally invidious discrimination,” the filing said.
But prosecutors responded Tuesday with a filing that said the U.S. Supreme Court case “does not help Brown because neither the stay order nor the concurrence directly resolves, or even addresses, the issue before this (appeals) court.”
Brown appealed to the Atlanta-based court after she was convicted in 2017 on 18 felony counts and sentenced to five years in prison.
A former 12-term congresswoman from Jacksonville, Brown was convicted on fraud and tax charges related to her role in using contributions to the One Door for Education charity for personal expenses and events.
The appeals court heard arguments Feb. 1 but has not ruled.
The March 29 filing is what is known as “supplemental authority.”
News Service of Florida