JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—A juror says she was “blindsighted” by the removal of a fellow juror in the Corrine Brown trial, and that his ouster “chang[ed] the entire course of the trial.”
“It basically was a hung jury,” Juror 3 tells First Coast News. “There was a verdict in place before number 13 was taken out, which was a hung jury -- which was the one that should have been given.”
The juror, who asked not to be identified by name over concerns about a possible “backlash,” says both she and Juror 13 voted “not guilty,” while the other 10 jurors were convinced of Brown’s guilt. After two difficult days of deliberations, she says, the jury was prepared to announce that inconclusive outcome Tuesday.
Instead, they decided to go home for the night because they didn’t know how long the process would take.
The following morning, juror 13 was removed and replaced with an alternate. Juror 3 says she thinks the juror was removed because he was an obstacle to a unanimous verdict and that after he was removed, she felt pressure to fall in line.
“I asked them, 'Why didn’t you just get rid of me, too,' because I knew something happened to him within the jury,” she says.
Juror 13, an older white man was removed after Juror 8, a middle-aged white female, complained his religious convictions were preventing him from deliberating. U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan then interviewed Juror 13, who acknowledged that the Holy Spirit had told him before the trial began that Brown was innocent.
Corrigan concluded Juror 13 was ignoring his instructions to rely solely on the law and the evidence during deliberations.
“He is using external forces to bring to bear on his decision making,” the judge said when he decided to remove the juror. “He is being guided by a higher power in a way that is inconsistent with jury service.”
Juror 3 says “group think” ruled, and became more intense when her only ally was gone. Without an explanation from the judge, she says she worried about why he was gone – but says it was clear others were “in the know.”
“For someone to be kicked off the jury and certain people know, and know why … It can be very intimidating and confusing, and it caused a lot of conflict.”
Juror 3 ultimately changed her vote to guilty. She found enough holes in Brown’s defense to feel comfortable with her decision, but she does not feel the trial was fair. She says that’s why, when the verdict was read, she could be seen wiping away tears.
“I’m not saying she was innocent,” she says. “I can’t necessarily say she should get a whole new trial. However, if she deserves a fair trial then, yes, that one wasn’t fair.”