Reggie Brown’s attorney asks to step aside from case amid appeal disagreement

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A court-appointed attorney for former Jacksonville Councilman Reggie Brown has asked a federal judge to allow him to step aside from the case, due to a disagreement over appeals of his conviction.

In November, the 11th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals dismissed Brown’s appeal, which had been filed by attorney Valarie Linnen, raising several trial issues. Brown then requested a rehearing either by a three-judge panel or by the full 11th Circuit court. This request was denied this month.

In Linnen’s motion, filed Wednesday, she writes that she has already filed petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court, but does not believe this case merits Supreme Court review, as it does not meet one of many legal tests, such as a conflict between decisions of different federal circuit courts. Linnen also writes that Florida bar rules prevent attorneys from bringing lawsuits known to be frivolous or without merit.

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According to the motion, Linnen discussed the appeals process with Brown, who disagreed with the attorney’s assessment, and asked him to step aside from the case.

While Brown has served his prison sentence, he is currently facing forfeiture of his home, as part of the sentence against him. Brown had previously asked the court to delay this forfeiture until all of his appeals have been exhausted, including a possible motion that would assert ineffective assistance of counsel during the trial, known as the Form 2255 motion. Brown was represented by another court-appointed attorney for the 2019 trial.

Prosecutors responded to Brown’s request for a delay, saying they were not opposed to a delay until the end of the appeals process, but were opposed to delaying the forfeiture until that any potential Form 2255 queries be resolved. Following the appeals court’s decision not to rehear Brown’s appeal, making its decision official, prosecutors revised their response, to oppose any request to postpone the forfeiture.

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A judge has yet to rule on Brown’s request to delay the forfeiture. It will also be up to a judge to rule on Linnen’s request to withdraw from the case.

Reggie Brown and unrelated former Jacksonville Councilwoman Katrina Brown were convicted in 2019 of federal charges, including conspiracy and fraud, related to a federally backed loan and grant in town for Katrina Brown’s family barbecue sauce business.

They were finally sentenced in the fall of 2020 and they started their sentence in January 2021. Reggie Brown was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Katrina Brown to 33 months in prison. Reggie Brown was released from prison on January 14. Experts say federal prisoners typically only serve about 85% of their sentence, if they show good behavior, and spend the end of their sentence in a halfway house or home confinement to help with rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

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