New approach to court case could save fire chief's job

June 28, 2013 12:50:25 AM PDT
Fresno's fire chief pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges Thursday morning. Rob Brown and his family deny the charges are legitimate, but they're taking a new approach to handling the case.

Brown arrived at court Thursday surrounded by his family -- his wife and their four sons, ages 11 to 18. We won't show you the boys' faces, but one of them called 911, leading to the chief's arrest two weeks ago.

Since then, the Browns have had their kids by their sides at every public appearance, including an initial press conference. Alongside their original attorneys, the parents challenged reports of violence at the home, saying sheriff's deputies blew the situation out of proportion.

"But then the 911 call was released and some of what was said was contradicted. Was there any damage done at this previous press conference?" an Action News reporter asked the chief's new attorney, Marshall Hodgkins.

"Well, let me put it this way: you don't see that other attorney standing in front of you," Hodgkins said. "You see me standing in front of you."

The chief's new attorney is bringing a different approach to the case. He acknowledged something went wrong on the night of June 12.

"You don't see me standing in front of you telling you there is absolutely no fault at all here on behalf of Chief Brown," Hodgkins said.

He says the family has attended counseling since 30 minutes after an emergency protective order expired last week.

Legal analyst Michael Idiart says the counseling and the new approach could lead to a compromise and possibly save the chief's job.

"If we can get reports back saying it's going very well, let's work something out that doesn't destroy the family or the family income," Idiart said. "That happens a lot."

A visiting judge rejected a request from prosecutors for a new protective order keeping Brown away from his family.

Idiart says that's unusual ? happening in less than 10% of cases -- and prosecutors tell Action News they'll revisit that issue with the regular domestic violence judge at Brown's court appearance next month.

Meanwhile, the judge did order Chief Brown to stay away from alcohol as his case proceeds.


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