CORUNNA — It’s not the typical headline people are used to seeing — Florida man takes assistant prosecutor job with Shiawassee County — but Chris Brown is enjoying the change of pace — mostly — just the same.
Brown attended St. Thomas University Law School in Miami, Florida. After passing the Florida bar exam, Brown practiced in Florida for about eight years, working on insurance law.
“The reason I went there is there were lots of cases, lots of trials… You see ‘Florida Man…’ Well that’s Florida. We had a lot of weird kind of cases,” Brown said.
Despite enjoying the warm climate in Miami, Brown and his wife, whom he met in Florida, decided to relocate to Michigan.
“I’m not sure I’m enjoying the winter right now,” Brown joked about moving back to his home state. “We both did not like the big city. Miami is crazy — it’s busy with the people. Michigan has very friendly people and we like that. We like a little slower pace.”
Brown has been with the prosecutor’s office for several months and is putting his Florida trial skills to use, earning convictions in the two trials in which he has led.
Brown said he is enjoying the variety of cases he’s handling before 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart.
“Judge Stewart is the type of judge I like,” Brown said. “He’s fast, he’s efficient. He’s knows the law and he knows evidence. The couple of trials I’ve done in front of him were just very smooth, efficient. I like him a lot. I think he’s a good judge.”
Brown also credited the Prosecutor’s Office with a certain synergy since mid-2020. Prior to that time, the Shiawassee County Public Defender’s Office had won acquittals or mistrials in eight of 10 jury trials. Since Brown and fellow assistant prosecutor Nicole Brown have joined the staff, the prosecutor’s office has not lost.
“I think we support each other,” Brown said. “Nicole and I both do criminal law and I think we got a lot of good mentoring from Scott and (chief assistant prosecutor) Adam (Masserang). Me, I just like to try cases.”
Shiawassee County Prosecutor Scott Koerner said Brown’s record so far, and his overall dedication, have been welcome.
“Chris has been a great addition to the team,” Koerner said. “One of the reasons I hired him is litigation experience, and he hit the ground running. He has lived up to that expectation. Within his first few months of being with us, he successfully tried cases.
“He has an excellent presence in the courtroom and a passion for prosecuting cases. He’s been a very important part of the prosecutor’s office.”
Brown credits Koerner with having an open-door policy, and said he admires Koerner’s oversight, noting that he monitors all criminal cases in Shiawassee County.
“I’m impressed how he literally has his hands on every single case,” Brown said. “Even the low misdemeanors up to the felonies, he has a very good view of impressions.”
However, Brown doesn’t hesitate to throw Koerner under the bus for good-natured mistakes involving Koerner’s successful run for prosecutor during the election season while setting up campaign signs throughout Shiawassee County.
“I’ll tell you something about Scott that no one knows,” Brown said. “He is notorious for leaving hammers behind. I didn’t realize that we didn’t have a hammer until we had to turn around and go back and get it.”
Brown, 38, was born and raised in Hillsdale, playing golf and basketball and participating in theater and band. He attended Michigan State University for his undergraduate degree.
“You know, I originally wanted to be a teacher,” Brown said. “And when I started undergrad, I took a criminal justice class and liked it. It sort of got me moving toward the law and my love for theater and dramatics, that kind of translates to trial law. It pushed me that way.”
After about three years of working to pay off college loans, Brown thought about a criminal justice class he had taken, and decided he wanted to be an attorney.
“Respected by law enforcement, Chris is an excellent addition to the Shiawassee County Prosector’s Office. When the court looks to schedule a jury trial, Chris is in front of the line, proclaiming that his matter is prepared and that he is ready for trial. From my perspective as a former trial attorney and now judge, I appreciate that level of energy and enthusiasm,” 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart said via email.