Corrine Brown is back in court on August 7 for hearings on motions filed by her lawyer, James Smith. The motions were filed almost immediately following her conviction on May 18 for fraud and tax evasion in connection with an unregistered charity, One Door for Education. The founder of the charity, Carla Wiley, and her chief of staff for 24 years, Ronnie Simmons, both testified against her. She faces 357 years in prison.
Most followers of Brown’s court case probably know that 2 of the original 12 jurors didn’t believe she was guilty of the charges. The holdouts were Juror #3, who said she had a doubt about the former congresswoman’s guilt, and Juror #13, who told his fellow jurors the Holy Spirit had told him before the trial began that Corrine wasn’t guilty, and that after hearing the evidence he was of the same mind.
Juror #8, a woman, secretly told the judge that Juror #13 was basing his not guilty votes in the jury room on the supernatural and not on the evidence. The judge promptly dismissed Juror #13 and replaced him with the alternate. Juror #3 said at that point, not knowing about #8’s conversation with the judge, and not knowing why #13 was suddenly removed, she felt pressured to change her vote. And she did, resulting in Brown being found guilty of 18 of 22 federal charges.
Brown’s attorney immediately filed a motion for a new trial and the prosecution promptly filed its response in opposition. Last Friday, Smith followed up with his reply to the prosecution’s response in opposition; and requested oral arguments. Smith is arguing that the judge’s removal of Juror #13 because of his religious beliefs violated Brown’s right to a jury of her peers.
The judge set August 7 as the date for a hearing of the motions. Legal minds are nearly all agreed that it is unlikely the judge will grant Brown a new trial. In that event, Smith could appeal the judge’s decision not to grant a new trial, and then, if he lost that battle, could go back and appeal the jury’s guilty verdict. It will likely be years before this case is fully resolved– if Brown can afford the cost of her legal help.
To that end, Brown is asking for help from friends and former constituents.
“I am fighting the Department of Justice, which has unlimited resources. They have smeared my good name. They are trying to take my freedom. I am asking for your help to fight these false charges. On this website [CorrineBrownLegalExenseTrust.org], you can make a donation to my legal defense fund. Any contribution would be greatly appreciated,” she posted online.
Brown’s Legal Defense Fund is busy trying to raise money for the embattled former congresswoman, with three fundraising events taking place before the August 7 date.
The first, on Sat. July 22, is an “after party”, to follow a concert by the legendary soulful Betty Wright.
A week later, on July 29, is the “All White Throwdown,” a “party with a purpose.”
And then, on Aug. 6, a surprise party will take place at a location to be announced.
Fundraising has been slow. According to the Defense Fund website, no money has been collected through the defense fund website to date.
Brown’s lawyer is also focusing on the upcoming sentencing hearing. He is asking Brown’s supporters to write letters to the judge seeking leniency. His letter can be found here.