The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday agreed to hear a full court appeal of a case in which a juror was dismissed for stating he received divine guidance during trial deliberations.

Former Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown is asking for  a retrial of her fraud case, arguing U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan wrongly removed a juror for telling other jurors he had prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit and believed Brown was innocent.

Brown was convicted in May 2017 on 18 counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud and tax charges in a charity scam and sentenced to five years in prison.

The juror insisted he came to his conclusion based on the evidence, but the judge determined he had illegally “received guidance” from outside the trial and was relying on prayer to make his decision.

TRENDING: Study finds dominant strain of COVID may have mutated for ‘getting around’ masks

A three-judge panel rejected Brown’s appeal, 2-1.

Lea Patterson, legal counsel for the non-profit First Liberty, said the judges set a harmful standard.

“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,” Patterson said. “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? If this decision stands millions of Americans are disqualified from fulfilling their civic duty as jurors simply because they believe that God answers prayer.”

First Liberty said Judge Corrigan questioned the juror, who confirmed that he had no “political, religious, or moral beliefs that would preclude [him] from serving as a fair and impartial juror” and that 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.”

Brown sought a new trial, arguing the juror was improperly removed, but the district court denied the motion and imposed a sentence.

Her appeal to a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit was rejected, prompting the request for a full hearing.

In the three-judge panel, Judge William Pryor dissented, contending that both the district court and his panel’s majority opinion misunderstood the nature of prayer.

He said that finding the juror’s religious expression inherently disqualifying beyond a reasonable doubt endangered the ability of qualified, religious citizens to serve on juries.


You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...