Former Congresswoman Corrine Brown is hoping an appellate court overturns her fraud convictions after her sentencing Monday.
But one former Department of Justice prosecutor thinks the only thing certain about her chances is uncertainty.
Matt Mueller is a white collar defense attorney with the Tampa law firm Wiand Guerra King. But for eight years he was on the other side of courtroom, working as a prosecutor in DOJ’s tax division.
Mueller said just because things look bleak for the former congresswoman, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have some chance at eventually succeeding on appeal.
He offered a recent example.
“I’m sure a case she’s thinking of is of the former Republican Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, who was convicted at trial of a number of bribery counts, appealed that to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, lost on appeal and then took it to the Supreme Court — which the Supreme Court vacated his conviction unanimously,” he said.
Mueller said although Judge Timothy Corrigan rejected Brown’s attempts to toss the case over insufficient government evidence or get a new one because of a dismissed juror, a new appeals judge could come to a different legal conclusion.
“That’s the beauty of the legal system,” he said. “While factual determinations will be given deference by the appellate court, the defendant gets a de novo review, meaning sort of a fresh look.”
Brown’s lawyer, James Smith, said Monday he intends to file a motion asking his client be allowed to stay home pending an appeal.
On that note, Mueller said Brown’s chances are slim. Corrigan is unlikely to grant the motion because he’s already demonstrated he doesn’t think Brown has a good case for appeal.
If that holds true, Brown will have to report to a federal prison on January 8th.