Japan's high court rejects Brown appeal
NAHA, Okinawa — Japan’s Supreme Court has dismissed Marine Maj. Michael Brown’s appeal seeking to oust the three Naha District Court judges presiding over his attempted rape and destruction of personal property trial.
Brown’s Japanese defense attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu announced the court’s decision Friday.
“The ruling by the Supreme Court was much anticipated,” Takaesu said. “The court did not say much. The only grounds they gave was that the lower court ruling was not a breach of the constitution. That was all they said.”
The attorney initially filed the motion in October seeking recusal of the three presiding judges.
But a lower court rejected the motion and Takaesu appealed.
Takaesu will meet with court officials within a week to set a date for resuming the trial.
“I believe we can proceed sometime around mid-January,” he said.
Because the trial’s slow pace — four-hour sessions are scheduled every other week or so — Takaesu said he hopes that when the Japanese fiscal year ends in March at least one of the judges will be replaced.
In Japan, court officials can be changed in the middle of a trial. In the Brown case, a new prosecutor and chief judge were assigned in March.
“So, if one or two judges are reassigned, it would be the same result as if they recused themselves,” Takaesu said.
Brown alleges the judges were prejudiced when they accepted pre-indictment statements from Victoria Nakamine, the 40-year- old Filipina barmaid who accused him of attempted rape more than a year ago.
During May testimony, she recanted and asked to have the charges dropped. But the judges elected to accept both her trial testimony and pre-trial statements as evidence.
The case stems from Nov. 2, 2002, when Nakamine gave Brown a ride to his off-base home. She had parked her car to talk to Brown when he began to fondle her, she said.
She later testified Brown stopped his sexual advances when she complained.
Brown is also accused of throwing her cellular phone into the Tengan River after she threatened to call police.
Nakamine claimed police and prosecutors coerced her into filing charges against Brown, who was indicted Dec. 19. He spent 149 days in confinement before being released on bail.
Brown, of 3 Marine Expeditionary Force, is a 19-year Marine veteran.
— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.