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First Coast

Congresswoman Corrine Brown And Lawyers ‘Break Up’; Trial Postponed Until November

Presley Pratt
Congresswoman Corrine Brown (FLD-5) plead not guilty in July.

The fraud trial of Congresswoman Corrine Brown will be postponed by a month after a judge ruled Tuesday she needs more time to find a new lawyer.

Federal Judge James Klindt granted her previous lawyers’ request to be dismissed from the case; it’s the third set of lawyers who’ve departed from Brown since her indictment.

Lawyers Mark NeJame and David Haas cited irreconcilable differences in their motion last week, but NeJame said it’s nothing personal.

“That’s why a lot of times people don’t represent friends and family — because it does get personal. She’s been a public servant for 24 years in this area. She’s done a phenomenal amount of good,” NeJame said. “We continue to support her personally and professionally, but we simply believe it was not best for us to continue to represent her.”

His motion cited “hostility” with Brown, but on Tuesday he said it was more like arguing with a spouse or friend.

“It’s simply a break up and sometimes you break up and you don’t talk again and sometimes you break up because it’s best to remain friends,” he said.

Sporting a lipstick mark on his cheek after a kiss from Brown, NeJame said he’ll be instrumental in picking her new counsel, which must be done by a Sept. 7 status hearing. Her trial is set for Nov. 17, after the general election.

The Congresswoman maintains her innocence as she faces 22 charges of mail and wire fraud relating to her involvement in the fraudulent charity One Door for Education.

Some media reports have suggested Brown’s problem with retaining counsel was related to her finances or her refusal to take a plea bargain. But NeJame refuted those claims and a judge refused to suggest a court-appointed lawyer, saying he was confident Brown had the money to find an attorney of her choosing.

Brown is currently facing two Democratic challengers – former State Sen. Al Lawson, who’s been raking in Republican campaign cash, and political newcomer LaShonda Holloway.

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Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter@RyanMichaelBenk