The Good Doctor

Michael Brown made it big in the hand clinic business. But as his wife discovered, there was a much darker side to this dynamic surgeon.

"There are no good excuses, for I am accountable."

However, what sound like excuses begin in the next sentence. Brown, "for legal reasons," cites a drugged drink and a theft of $2,000 the night of the beating. "My actions en route and in the home and loss of memory are all indicative of an hallucinogenic drug for which the police would not test me despite my repeated insistence."

That loss of memory was later replaced by a detailed account of his wife's alleged "attack."

Brown's TV ads show a devoted father with daughter Sophie.
Brown's TV ads show a devoted father with daughter Sophie.

Brown reminds his attorneys of his goals. He wants his felony charges reduced to prevent revocation of his medical license. He seeks unlimited access to his daughters and reconciliation with his wife. And Brown also wants his Bentley, his Ferrari and his golf clubs taken to his Houston condo to await his release. To take care of all that, he suggests getting an appropriate letter from the hospital director.

"Remember," notes the doctor, "Sierra Tucson is a business."

He needn't have worried, at least about keeping his medical privileges.

Three months later, the Houston Northwest Medical Center Credentials Committee requested a medical opinion on Brown's application for reappointment to their medical staff. Committee chairman Gary Urano noted that Brown spent time in a rehab center followed by treatment from a psychiatrist. Hospital officials wanted assurances that he had completed the therapy, and the panel wanted answers to several questions. They needed to know if Brown's treating psychiatrist had seen his patient exhibit any behavior as the result of physical, mental, alcohol or drug impairment that might interfere with the exercise of his clinical privileges.

On May 17 Brown's medical staff forwarded Urano's letter to Glass, Brown's psychiatrist, with a note that "you must call Michael Sharp…He would like to discuss the report with you."

Five days later, attorney Sharp faxed Glass the questions as well as a set of suggested answers, prepared by Sharp's law partner. "These are not intended to be directive in any way but it is due tomorrow and I am trying to help in any way that I can in facilitating this reply…," read an accompanying note from Sharp. "Thanks for all your help for Dr. Brown."

A day later, the psychiatrist sent a letter to the hospital committee stating he had never observed Dr. Michael Brown exhibiting any behavior that might interfere with his clinical privileges. It was word for word a duplicate of the "draft" he had been sent by Brown's attorney the previous day.

While Brown has been fighting to keep hospital privileges, the wheels of justice in other legal matters have moved on different tracks at different speeds.

Darlina sued for divorce in a Montgomery County court last October. Brown's legal team, headed by flamboyant Houston attorney Rocket Rosen, attacked Darlina's morals -- particularly the extramarital affair early in the couple's marriage.

During a pretrial deposition, Rosen equated Brown's alleged assault with her affair. He suggested that Darlina was guilty of attempted murder of her husband by having unprotected sex with another man. She responded that they had used condoms.

Darlina's attorneys, including Houston lawyers Tommy Fibich and Wendy Burgower, instead focused on the series of Brown's allegedly violent incidents against his wife.

The verdict left no doubt about whom jurors believed. Their verdict awarded Darlina $3.4 million and custody of their daughters, and it found that the doctor had committed violence against his spouse. Under the terms of a legal agreement, Brown can see his children only on supervised visitation in the presence of a social worker. He has appealed the verdict.

Presiding juror Greg Steiner says the entire panel found that Darlina was credible and the doctor wasn't. "My personal opinion is that he needs to be in jail," Steiner says. Jurors found it odd that the doctor had not already been tried for aggravated assault, he says.

Montgomery County District Attorney Mike McDougal put off criminal action against the physician while he awaited the outcome of the civil case -- the reverse of the usual course in such proceedings.

Initially, prosecutors had offered the doctor a plea bargain with deferred adjudication that would expunge the assault from Brown's records and allow him to keep his medical license. Brown at first refused the plea. The civil verdict in Darlina's favor fueled public pressure for McDougal to toughen his stance.

By then, Brown had replaced his legal team headed by Rosen and hired top-ranked Houston defense attorney Jack Zimmerman. The lawyer secured a gag order from state District Judge Suzanne Stovall to keep those involved with the case from talking to the media.

The next criminal court date is in February, although McDougal says he is still mulling over whether to take the case to trial -- he calls it "a complicated situation." Asked if Brown's money and influence had gotten the defendant special treatment, the district attorney replies tersely, "We don't see it that way."

It's the week before Christmas, and Darlina Brown's new Woodlands home is packed with holiday decorations as well as family keepsakes and photos that once adorned her far more spacious Wedgwood residence.

The woman so bruised and battered in police photographs a year ago is now an animated, almost childlike blond guiding visitors to the den of what she calls her "little home." The location and phone number were supposed to be secret to protect Darlina from Brown. But she says the doctor has called the house -- and in September, the physician had a spray of flowers delivered to the door to mark Sophie's second birthday. Darlina took it as an implied warning.

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Actually Brown's first wife was Diane Christine Bates according to the Harris County Clerks office which he married in 1978 which like his others marriages didn't last long wonder why?

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