Surgeon on trial for allegedly assaulting his wife

September 12, 2011 4:07:05 PM PDT
The trial of a prominent local hand doctor is about to get underway. A man known for his commercials for the Brown Hand Center is accused of assaulting his wife.

Former hand surgeon Michael Brown walked into court with little fanfare Monday morning. But as soon as jury selection began, it was clear this was going to be no ordinary trial.

Brown is accused of assaulting this fourth wife, Rachel Brown in August 2010. At the beginning of jury selection, the judge tried to focus the jurors on just that one charge.

"The indictment is not evidence of guilt. Frankly, it's not evidence of anything," Judge Jim Wallace explained. "It's merely a piece of paper."

But attorneys soon changed the tone, with prosecutor Nathan Hennigan asking if Brown's extravagant lifestyle would impact the jury.

He asked, "Is there anyone here that thinks that the way super rich people live offends them? Or finds it offensive or wasteful or anything like that?"

Brown's defense attorney Dick DeGuerin suggested that his client's wealth may actually make it harder for him to get a fair shake.

DeGuerin said, "It's not that they're not human beings, there's kind of a reverse discrimination against wealthy people."

Several jurors admitted to seeing Brown in those hand surgery commercials on TV, touting his family life. Even the defense attorney's fame came under scrutiny.

Hennigan asked, "Who hasn't heard of Dick DeGuerin?"

But in the end jurors must decide if the former hand surgeon assaulted his wife last August.

"Can we just focus on that one question?" DeGuerin asked. "That's the only question that makes a difference here."

There could be more distractions as the trial gets underway. Former Houston Astro Jeff Bagwell may be called as a potential defense witness.

Opening statement are slated for Tuesday morning. If convicted, Brown faces up to 10 years in prison.


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