Former Osceola County school teacher’s CSC conviction upheld
REED CITY — The state Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a former Osceola County teacher sentenced to prison for having sexual relations with a student.
Janet Marie Brown, 35, was a teacher at the Ashmun School, which is operated at Eagle Village in Hersey. Brown was convicted in March 2014 of one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for a relationship with a male student. Jurors found her not guilty on two additional counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In her appeal, Brown argued she was denied a fair trial due to the length of time jurors were required to deliberate late into the evening on the last day of trial, returning a verdict at 12:28 a.m. after about four hours of deliberations.
In April 2014, Brown was sentenced to between three and 15 years in prison. At her sentencing, Brown’s attorney stated he believed the outcome was a “compromise verdict.” He also stated a juror had come forward in the weeks following the trial to say he’d felt pressured to reach a decision because his fellow jurors wished to go home.
“The jurors had to believe that the judge would not let them go home unless they came back with a verdict,” Brown argued in her appeal.
However, the three-judge panel disagreed, stating there was no indication the court had coerced or pressured the jury to reach a verdict.
“The jury wanted to continue deliberations as long as possible rather than returning over the weekend,” justices wrote in their decision released Wednesday.
“While the jury was on duty for 12 hours before beginning deliberations, there is nothing in the record to suggest that the trial court instructed the jury that it could not leave until it reached a verdict, that the jury ever requested that the court adjourn for the night or that the jury appeared exhausted. The jury was provided with food and breaks,” the Appeals Court wrote.
Brown was arrested in November 2012 after the discovery of inappropriate communication with the student. According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, she is serving her sentence at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti. Her earliest release date is March 19, 2017.