R&B singer Chris Brown was ordered on Monday March 17 to remain in jail without bail for allegedly violating his probation stemming from his 2009 assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna in Hancock Park. Brown, 24, was arrested March 14 after he was tossed out of a Malibu substance-abuse and anger-management facility where he had been for about the past four months. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin said he believed the reason for Brown’s ouster was a statement the singer made during a group session dubbed “morning reflections.”
Brown told the group, “I am good at using guns and knives,” according to Brandlin, who said he was particularly troubled by the remark. Defense attorney Mark Geragos asked the judge to allow his client to enroll in another program immediately, arguing that none of the incidents cited in the Probation Department’s report warranted jail time. Geragos said program administrators had accused Brown of refusing a drug test, but that Brown had in fact taken two such tests and both came back negative.
The singer had also violated internal policies by “touching elbows or standing very close to a female client,” the defense attorney said. Geragos did not mention Brown’s alleged comment about weapons, saying that the singer asked during the group session “for my higher power to take my troubles away.” Deputy District Attorney Mary Murray said prosecutors were “strongly opposed” to Brown’s release into another rehab program, arguing that Brown had been given “repeated opportunities” by the court.
“He’s put himself in custody,” Murray told the judge.
Brandlin — who had warned Brown in February that any change in his good behavior could land him in jail — “respectfully denied” the defense’s request, ordering Brown to stay in jail until a probation violation hearing set for April 23. In the meantime, Brown is tentatively due in a Washington, D.C. courtroom on April 17 for a hearing on a misdemeanor charge for allegedly punching a 20-year-old man who was trying to get a photo with the R&B singer. Geragos said that the D.C. court may not have any authority to get Brown out of custody for the misdemeanor hearing.
Since his probation hearing depends on the facts of the East Coast case, his client could be left in a sort of legal limbo, he argued. Brandlin asked the prosecutor and defense attorney to help him determine how Brown might be allowed to attend the East Coast proceedings, but agreed with Geragos that otherwise witnesses from that incident might need to be called to Los Angeles to testify. It would “create an incredible drain (on judicial resources) to do this twice on two different coasts,” Brandlin said.
Geragos said he might fight for an earlier Los Angeles court date, arguing that it was unreasonable for his client to be “sitting on ice” for five or six weeks for a probation violation hearing, which he said is typically heard within 30 days. Throughout the hearing, Brown sat quietly in orange jail clothes. He had been brought into the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back, drawing objections from Geragos.“I ask that he be unshackled,” Geragos said.
“He should have been allowed to dress up instead of sitting here in an orange jumpsuit.”
Geragos asked that cameras not be allowed to film his client unless he was given a chance to put on a shirt and tie, arguing that his appearance would be prejudicial to the Washington, D.C., hearing.
“This will be shown around the world,” he argued.
Noting that the D.C. case would be decided by a judge, rather than a jury, Brandlin overruled the objection, allowing cameras to roll during the proceedings. Brown pleaded guilty in June 2009 to assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury for assaulting Rihanna during an argument that began about 12:30 a.m. Feb. 8, 2009, while the singers were in a rented Lamborghini in Hancock Park after attending a pre-Grammy Awards party. Brown was sentenced to five years probation, a yearlong domestic violence program — which he completed — and 180 days of community labor.
Brown’s probation was first revoked last summer after he was charged with a pair of misdemeanors and an infraction stemming from a May 21 traffic crash in Toluca Lake. Those charges have since been dismissed, despite a city prosecutor’s objection to a “civil compromise” in which attorneys said no money was exchanged between the parties. His probation was reinstated last August, when Brandlin ordered the singer to perform an additional 1,000 hours of community labor.