Rep. Corrine Brown took an unusual step as a U.S. congresswoman (D-Fla. 3) when she showed up after a trial to confront state attorney Angela Corey (4th Judicial Circuit). Brown had a meltdown right there in the Jacksonville (Fla.) courthouse.
The case involved a defendant who claimed a Stand Your Ground defense. The statutes defining SYG are not as clear cut as media often portray. Read some of the criteria that must be satisfied and it’s obvious this can be a difficult defense to mount.
The case is complex. News media reported the defendant fired a gun at her husband. His two children were on the premises. That shot missed. A fairly level report on the case is published at The Florida Times Union, the only daily newspaper in Jacksonville.
The defendant had been let out on bond after being charged with aggravated assault. However, she then went to her husband’s house a few months after the shooting and he ended up with an injury to his eye.
A judge said in 2011 the defendant also went back into the house to confront her husband after their dispute involving the shooting, instead of simply leaving.
The defendant was one part of a troubled couple. Her husband also had been arrested for domestic battery. Despite brushes with the law, the couple continued to act in a volatile manner.
The defendant was offered a plea—3 years. She turned it down.
Brown engaged in a garbled back and forth with Corey when the trial ended on Friday. Brown did not express concern for any of the children caught up in this dysfunctional family other than to note the children were not hit when the defendant fired the weapon.
Corey attempted to reason with Brown, explaining the facts of the case. Brown has never attended law school although Edward Waters College did award her an Honorary Doctor of Law degree.
Corey is sworn to uphold Florida law. Once the defendant refused a plea deal and opted for a trial, little could be done under sentencing guidelines after the defendant was judged guilty by a jury of her peers.
“All the community is asking for is mercy and justice,” said Brown.
By the time the case came to trial, however, the actions of the defendant basically neutered her own defense.
Nor did a judge have discretion. The Times-Union said Circuit Judge James Daniel explained that “Florida’s ‘10-20-Life’ statutes take any discretion he might have afforded her out of his hands.”
Some of Florida’s are very strict, and they have been questioned by many people, including me. Personally, I believe a number of our laws should be examined, not just in Florida, but across the nation.
However, no prosecutor creates the law. Brown’s discussion would have probably been more appropriate if her target had been a member of the legislature. Furthermore, her confrontation with Corey served the interest of politics rather than sentencing or criminal justice reform.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed a Stand Your Ground task force to review the law.
One matter has been overlooked in media coverage of the case Brown took a sudden interest in—the troubling vulnerability of the children in this couple’s life.
Brown leveled the rather remarkable accusation of "institutional racism" at Corey.
The victim, the potential child victims and the actor were all of the same race.
Read more about Brown (Wikipedia; sources are credible)
Read more about Stand Your Ground (The US Report)
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/May 12, 2012)