Judge Thoroughly Explains Denial of Motion to Pro Per Accused Charged with Threatening to Kill His Mother

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By Katherine Longjohn

RIVERSIDE, CA – In the case late last week where pro per accused (representing himself) Michael Brown faces charges for threatening to kill his mother in Oct. 2021, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Mac Fisher denied Brown’s request to set aside information because it goes “beyond” the bounds of the motion.

Through the use of a motion to set aside information, Brown attempted to have the court substitute the statements his mother made to officers on the night of the alleged incident, with the contradictory testimony she gave under oath.

After allowing Brown to freely speak on his own behalf, Judge Fisher thoroughly explained each step of his ruling.

First Judge Fisher reviewed the purpose and the limitations of the motion to set aside information under the law, specifically highlighting the fact that “neither the superior court nor the appellate court may reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment,” which is what Brown was attempting to do.

To ensure that Brown understood the reasoning of the court, Judge Fisher said, “What you’re asking me to do is to accept that (your mother’s) testimony under oath… is the actual description of the things that occurred and her mental processes during the time of the alleged incident versus what she told the police officers.”

Judge Fisher denied the request, explaining to Brown that he can’t substitute the victim’s testimony because to do so would go beyond the purpose of the motion.

Judge Fisher explained further by saying that it is common for victims in domestic violence cases to want to “come forward under oath and say ‘I never said those things. It never happened.’”

Judge Fisher added, “Nonetheless the matter goes on because the judge at the preliminary hearing is entitled to make their own assessment about the credibility and believability of the witnesses and I can’t substitute my judgment.”

Before leaving the bench, Judge Fisher expressed his desire to clearly explain his reasoning to Brown since he chose to represent himself in this matter:

“It’s easy for me to say motion denied and leave the bench. I could do that. But I don’t feel comfortable doing that. I try to explain it to folks here who don’t have lawyers, so you understand what the purpose of (this motion) is,” he said.

Prior to the conclusion of the hearing for this motion, Brown attempted to argue that in the preliminary hearing the prosecution failed to prove the crime took place, saying that “the elements of the crime are not there, just the one allegation that the witness made.”

However, Judge Fisher disagreed and left Brown with words of advice leading into his jury trial beginning on March 1:

“Sir, I disagree with you…I would suggest that if you’re going to insist upon being pro per that you brief it to exclude any conclusions or speculation and the trial judge will make that decision as to what is admissible or not.”

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About The Author

Katherine is a senior at USC majoring in Political Science with a minor in Gender and Social Justice. As an aspiring lawyer, she plans on attending law school after finishing her undergraduate degree in May 2022.

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