The Harris County 309th district court had over a dozen cases on its docket on Tuesday, but only two had an unexpected overlap.
For a few minutes the courtroom contained all three main parties in a love triangle between some of Houston's most famous (and infamous) citizens. Sitting front and center amongst a cadre of lawyers was Rachel Brown, while her estranged husband, Brown Hand Center founder Michael Brown occupied a seat on the far left of the courtroom.
The majority of the day was devoted to oral testimony concerning child custody in the Brown divorce. Among the respondents before the judge was Rachel Brown's current boyfriend, Houston Astros legend Jeff Bagwell, who was sworn in. (Bagwell is going through his own divorce from his wife Ericka even as his girlfriend goes through the divorce with the Brown Hand Center founder).
Brown admitted to paying for "companionship," occasionally with up to three women at a time, but testified that his children would not be exposed to him "dating."
Bagwell was briefly joined by Rachel Brown as he exited the courtroom, but if Michael Brown had any feelings about seeing his estranged wife with her new man, he kept them hidden — the parties studiously avoided acknowledging one another.
Testimony in the Brown divorce covered much of the drama that has kept the family in the news and in the courtroom in recent months. With Michael Brown on the stand, attorneys for Rachel accused him of choking Rachel and threatening to kill her, throwing her down the stairs in front of their children, chasing her around the house with a pistol, kicking in a glass door, attempting to hire hit men to kill two different people and drinking non-stop. Michael Brown strenuously denied the charges.
Brown admitted to raising his voice and calling his wife names, and when asked about his use of hydrocodone (Rachel testified that he took somewhere between 20 and 50 pills a day) Brown insisted that they were legally prescribed for his back pain and that he took only two pills per day. Attorneys accused Brown of being "constantly in the presence of prostitutes" at his condo in Miami, where he spends most of his time. Brown admitted to paying for "companionship," occasionally with up to three women at a time, but testified that his children would not be exposed to him "dating" or to other adult activities.
Rachel Brown also took the stand, breaking into tears as she talked about how her husband had abused her, including listing things he'd thrown at her: "Vases, coffee mugs, wine glasses, shoes" and a humanitarian award.
Question by her husband's attorneys, Rachel Brown admitted to using powder and crack cocaine as well as ecstasy after her children were born, though she testified that Michael supplied the drugs and participated in using them, adding that she had not taken any drugs since the end of 2009.
Attorneys also questioned her about her relationship with Bagwell, focusing on trips in which Bagwell and the Brown children had both been present as well as Bagwell's consumption of alcohol around Rachel and the children. (Bagwell went to rehab for alcoholism in 2011 but failed to complete his course of treatment.)
Continuing testimony in the Brown case delayed a hearing that had filled the courtroom in the morning with interested lawyers. Attorneys for Michel Brown filed a motion for sanction against Marshall Davis Brown, one of Rachel's attorneys (no relation) over his inappropriate and sexual remarks. Before the Brown hearing got underway, the talk of the courtroom was a remark that Marshall Brown made to some lawyers sitting in the jury box.
Referencing the complaint about how Brown had offered to feel a female attorney's breasts for lumps, Brown reportedly said that any good man would offer to give a woman a mammogram.