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Yet another attorney has asked to be “relieved” from involvement in a criminal case which includes the well-known, disbarred, former-Carlsbad attorney Michael Theodore Pines.

Criminal defense attorney Ivan B. Schwartz represented Pines’ co-defendant, named Robert Otis Griffith, as recently as last Friday.

But after meetings in the courthouse today with co-defendant Michael T. Pines, who is in custody, the defense attorney asked to “be relieved” as counsel for Griffith. Attorney Schwartz also stated on the record that he did not represent Pines. Defendant Pines was in a holding tank at the time, and it appeared Pines wished to dispute this assertion at first, calling out that “He has received a retainer!” But before the end of the hearing today Pines cheerfully told the court more than once, “I will be happy to represent myself.”

Superior Court Judge Kimberlee Lagotta did “relieve” Schwartz as attorney of record for Griffith, and she appointed the public defender’s office to step in. Michael Theodore Pines will be allowed to represent himself, and the judge set a preliminary hearing date in two days, for Thursday August 9 in the Vista courthouse.

Prosecutor James Romo has charged Pines with ten counts, including six felonies. The charges include attempted extortion and unauthorized practice of law and trespass and vandalism.

Robert Otis Griffith, 41, is named as a co-defendant on the same criminal complaint. Griffith is charged with felony attempted extortion, and four misdemeanors including trespass and vandalism and battery.

There have been unsubstantiated reports that Griffith, a former pro-football player, was having trouble with renters at his Rancho Santa Fe estate. This may be how he became associated with Michael Theodore Pines -- the unusual attorney was once known for helping his clients break into their former, repossessed homes.

Michael T. Pines, 60, is currently in custody on a no-bail hold. He has at least two other criminal cases following him through San Diego County courts.

There is another attorney in San Diego County named Michael Pines, who has offices in La Jolla.

The subject of this piece, Michael T. Pines, is not to be confused with another San Diego attorney named Michael Pines, a personal injury attorney in La Jolla.

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