Tempers flared in the Vista courthouse on May 17 when 59-year-old Michael Theodore Pines, acting as his own attorney, was brought before a superior-court judge.
Prosecutor James Romo said that Pines has filed suits against persons “as an intimidation factor,” and “his language of violence has increased” over the past months. The prosecutor said Pines threatened persons who moved into a home that Pines’s clients were trying to reclaim after they were evicted in a foreclosure.
“Mr. Pines is completely and utterly out of control,” said the deputy district attorney.
Pines interrupted the prosecutor, saying, “This is complete nonsense.... No, I’ve never threatened people.... This is pure harassment.”
The prosecutor and the accused interrupted each other until judge Marshall Hockett restored order to the proceedings: “I find you are a danger to this community, sir,” said the judge, who ordered Pines’s bail set at $227,000.
The State Bar of California declared Pines “not eligible to practice law” two weeks ago; as of May 1, he is “involuntarily enrolled as inactive.” Pines had law offices in Carlsbad.
A 17-page explanation from the “Office of the Chief Trial Counsel” stated: “…instead of relying on an established set of legal remedies to assert a borrower’s rights when facing a foreclosure, respondent advises his clients that they have the right to engage in self-help and retake their former homes by forcibly breaking into them after new owners have taken title…. He even, on occasion, threatened ‘an armed conflict’ to carry out his goals….”
Pines was arraigned on five felonies, including “stalking” the people who moved into the home that had been foreclosed upon. He pleaded not guilty to all charges, declined to waive time, and is next expected in the Vista Courthouse on May 25.
The subject of this piece, Michael T. Pines, is not to be confused with Michael Pines, a San Diego attorney.
Pictured: Michael Pines at the Vista Courthouse, May 17
Photo credit: Bob Weatherston