Garrett Harris 10:11 p.m., May 23
The unusual, much-arrested, former-attorney Michael Theodore Pines was back in court August 9.
Pines was charged last month with eleven new crimes, including five felonies for written threats and attempted extortion. At the time of his most recent arrest, Pines was at liberty pending sentencing for a previous crime he had resolved with a guilty plea. Michael Theodore Pines, 60, is now held without bail.
In the new case, Pines is also charged with unauthorized practice of law. The California State Bar has listed him as “not eligible to practice law” since May 2011.
Prosecutor James Romo alleges that Pines sent emails starting July 22, that were “attempted extortion.” These emails were reportedly sent to a person living on a Rancho Santa Fe estate, and demanded $1 million in exchange for Pines not pursuing charges against the man. Pines subsequently added another $250,000 demand, Romo said, to refrain from pursuing the arrest of the same man’s wife.
Pines’ co-defendant in the current case is Robert Otis Griffith, 41. Defendant Griffith was reportedly the owner of the Rancho Santa Fe property which was occupied by tenants as recently as last month.
Griffith is a former professional football player, and appears to have been represented by different attorneys while trying to manage his Rancho Santa Fe estate.
A trustee attorney gave testimony in court last Thursday, he said Robert Otis Griffith filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2011, and this was changed to chapter 7 bankruptcy in June 2011. The trustee said Griffith listed the estate in Rancho Santa Fe “as a real property asset” and now “he’s not entitled to occupy the property without trustee or court permission.”
It appears that Robert Otis Griffith may have entered the property to serve a “three-day-notice to quit the property” on persons who were living there, according to statements by his most recent attorney, Sean Salmon, in court Thursday, August 9 2012.
Prosecutor James Romo said that defendant Griffith also changed the locks at the property. The prosecutor has charged Griffith with misdemeanor trespass and vandalism and battery. Griffith also faces one felony charge of “attempted extortion,” apparently because Pines copied an allegedly incriminating email to Griffith.
Michael Theodore Pines acted as his own attorney during the hearing last week. Prosecutor Romo and defendant-acting-as-his-own-attorney Pines repeatedly interrupted each other until the woman making a transcript of the proceedings called out, “Guys! Guys!”
“Now you’ve done it, you’ve irritated the court reporter,” observed Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein. The judge made many attempts to preserve order during the hearing, including instructions of “court decorum,” more than once.
“I think you’ve pretty much beaten this dead horse over and over again,” the judge said to Pines, after the pro-per defendant yet again alleged criminal behavior by the persons occupying the Rancho Santa Fe property. Most of Pines’ attempted cross-examination of the bankruptcy trustee was ruled “irrelevant.”
The preliminary hearing is set to continue in the Vista courthouse Monday morning, August 13.
There is a different attorney also named Michael Pines practicing in San Diego County, who apparently has offices in La Jolla.