In a fraud case against former Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., a federal district court judge removed a juror who stated that he had received God’s guidance while thinking about the facts.
“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,” said Lea Patterson, counsel for First Liberty.
The district court judge questioned the juror about his ability to evaluate the facts while receiving the Holy Spirit’s guidance through prayer.
The juror said that he did not have any “political, religious, or moral beliefs that would preclude [him] from serving as a fair and impartial juror.”
Neither did he have “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.”
Yet, the judge said that the juror had received outside guidance, which disqualified him.
“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?” Patterson asked.
“If this decision stands millions of Americans are disqualified from fulfilling their civic duty as jurors simply because they believe that God answers prayer,” he said.
Brown, who held a Jacksonville-area seat in the House from 1993 to 2017, was indicted on 22 counts of fraud by a federal grand jury in 2016.
The charges in United States of America v. Corrine Brown alleged that Brown used the One Door for Education Foundation to send $800,000 to herself and her associates.
The jury declared Brown guilty of 18 out of 22 corruption charges, including mail fraud and filing fraudulent federal tax returns.
She was ordered on Dec. 4, 2017 to serve five years in prison. She began her sentence on Jan. 29, 2018 but was released early on April 22, 2020 because of the alleged risk that she faced from COVID-19.
Brown collected a taxpayer-funded congressional pension during almost all of her time in prison.