JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Attorneys for former Jacksonville City Council members Katrina and Reggie Brown have filed a motion asking that their upcoming sentencing, which is set for Oct. 27-29, be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sept. 22, the chief judge of the Middle District of Florida issued an order, extending the previous administrative order that was in place for the pandemic until Nov. 24. In the motion, attorneys for the Browns argue that the order prevents any in-person felony sentencings from taking place unless they’re done over video.
The motion also brings in various other developments related to COVID-19, including the president’s recent diagnosis.
“Clearly, if the President of the United States can get infected -- anyone can," the motion says.
It also details one of the questions on the juror questionnaire for federal court -- which asks if someone is over 65 or has an underlying medical condition that puts them at high risk of COVID complications. The motion states that both defense attorneys are over 65, and Curtis Fallgatter, Katrina Brown’s attorney, previously had bypass surgery, putting him at high risk. It also mentions that Katrina Brown has moderate asthma, and Reggie Brown has high blood pressure, which led to his May 2018 stroke, putting them both at high risk.
On Wednesday, prosecutors filed a response, opposing the request for another delay. They pointed out that the court has resumed jury trials and that in-person hearings can be conducted with reasonable precautions in an “objectively safe manner.” Prosecutors say the hearings should proceed as scheduled.
The Browns, who are not related, were convicted in October 2019 on federal charges of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering stemming from a federally-backed loan and a city grant obtained by a barbecue sauce business owned by Katrina Brown’s family.
Sentencing was originally set for Jan. 27, but the hearing was postponed after Katrina Brown got a new attorney. The hearing was then moved to March, but it was delayed once more in May in response to defense motions. The current sentencing date of Oct. 27-29 was then set on Aug. 31.