Readers of this space might’ve thought they were done with Corrine Brown.
Alas, in the tradition of summer Hollywood sequels, the former Congresswoman and current convicted felon is back.
On Thursday, Brown’s legal team responded to her conviction on 18 counts, including conspiracy to defraud, wire fraud, tax fraud, tax evasion and fraudulent financial disclosure forms. The response consisted of two motions: a motion for a new trial and a motion to acquit.
The motion for a new trial—which was predicated on a claim that the juror who got bounced because he was compelled in decision-making by the Holy Spirit—is the more tabloid-friendly of the two motions.
“During deliberations, Juror 13 said the Holy Spirit had told him that Ms. Brown was not guilty. The Court found that the Holy Spirit was an external force, and dismissed the juror,” the motion filing reads.
That sums it up—sort of. The issues with the juror unfolded over a course of days, causing concern among other jurors, who believed that empirical evidence (which all jurors had access to) rather than quasi-gnostic enlightenment, should drive decision-making in what was, ultimately, a case of withdrawals and deposits, of solicitations and acceptances of cash and checks.
The juror was sent home, or to Heaven, and Brown was found guilty soon thereafter, to the dismay of the defense team.
“The Court’s finding that the Holy Spirit is an external force is not supported by the record. There is a substantial possibility the Holy Spirit was actually the juror’s own mind or spirit telling him that one or more witnesses had not testified truthfully. Therefore, justice requires that Ms. Brown be granted a new trial,” the motion reads.
Here, we move into the territory inhabited by huckster preachers, the world where Benny Hinn slaps people on the forehead and cures them of leprosy, where Rev. Ike sends a paper prayer cloth to chase away the demons, where Jim Bakker triple-sells theme-park timeshares.
What is this “substantial possibility” canard? It actually invalidates the premise of a jury trial, in that—if we take it to its logical end—the only jurors one would want are blessed with gnostic knowledge. Would certainly save time with all that evidence, testimony, and so on. Just let the guy talking to God figure it out.
More on the juror: “Juror 13 told the Court that his religious beliefs were not interfering with his ability to decide the case based on the Court’s instructions and the evidence. He said he had followed the evidence, and that he was going to make a decision based on ‘what I think and believe,’” a category including but not limited to “guidance from Heaven.”
The motion also objected to how Judge Timothy Corrigan, who was more than accommodating to Brown throughout the trial, handled that premise, saying in court that the Holy Spirit theoretically “is directing or telling the person what disposition of the charges should be made.”
Brown’s defense asserts “that the Court’s determination that the Holy Spirit is an external force is not a credibility determination. The Court’s determination that the Holy Spirit is an external force is philosophical determination.”
Taken to its logical end, the motion contends that no matter how aberrational a juror’s content or mindset may be, it’s all good, as it is the juror’s philosophy.
A motion for a new trial was promised also, and it was delivered.
In that motion, the familiar canards resurfaced. Brown was not actively involved in the conspiracy to defraud with One Door for Education CEO Carla Wiley and her former chief-of-staff Ronnie Simmons. Wiley and Simmons, lovers at the time, actually did conspire in matters of wire fraud and mail fraud—but Brown was out of the loop.
And, besides, Brown was getting old, and deferred to Simmons to run her affairs.
These arguments were rehearsed in court, with little beyond anecdotal evidence to back them up. While no one disputed that Simmons often signed documents for Brown, there was enough evidence that Brown knew what was up to provide evidence of conspiracy, and of her knowledge of the actions.
However, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, “You don’t go to war with the army you want, you go to war with the army you have.”
The Holy Spirit and Brown’s diminished capacity, apparently, are the groundwork for the best possible case that can be made on appeal.
To accept these premises means that you also have to accept that Brown was foreclosed from a real defense, not because her attorneys stood down and offered no actual witnesses beyond Brown herself, but because the system was out to nail her.
Do you buy it? If so, why?