Law firms filed an appeal in United States v. Corrine Brown, a case that tests whether jurors have the right to pray for God’s guidance in reaching a just verdict.
A juror said he prayed for guidance during deliberation and received an answer from the Holy Spirit, First Liberty reported.
The district court judge questioned his fitness for jury duty, asking whether he had any “political, religious, or moral beliefs that would preclude [him] from serving as a fair and impartial juror,” to which the juror responded that he did not.
The juror said he was not “having any difficulties with any religious or moral beliefs that are, at this point, bearing on or interfering with [his] ability to decide the case on the facts presented and on the law as [the court] gave it to [him] in the instructions.”
“How is it possible that we demand a juror take an oath invoking God’s aid in rendering a verdict but then dismiss that same juror for taking that oath seriously?” said Hiram Sasser, Executive General Counsel for First Liberty.
“Dismissing a deliberating juror for believing prayer is effective denies the noble and civic duty to serve as a juror to hundreds of millions of Americans who seek divine guidance through prayer,” Sasser said.
The case itself involves former Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., who was indicted on 22 corruption charges.
After the judge dismissed the juror for seeking God’s aid, the jury found her guilty on 18 counts, and she was sentenced to serve five years in prison plus financial restitution.
“A nation that enshrines religious toleration in its founding document and invokes the religious beliefs of its citizenry to reinforce their public oaths cannot dismiss jurors based on the way they express their religious convictions,” attorneys wrote in the brief.
“And a nation that enshrines the jury-trial right in that same charter cannot lightly deprive a defendant of a juror who has expressed a preliminary inclination to acquit,” they said.
Brown received her congressional pension during her first three years in prison, and then she was released early on April 22 on the pretext that COVID-19 threatened her health.