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District Attorney will not file charges against ex-Assemblyman Chris Norby

Ex-assemblyman and supervisor arrested after March 12 domestic violence allegation.


Published: April 7, 2014 Updated: April 8, 2014 2:14 p.m.



Prosecutors said Monday they will not file charges against former state Assemblyman and Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, who was arrested March 12 on suspicion of domestic violence.

Norby, 64, was arrested and booked into the Fullerton city jail before being released on $10,000 bond.

Police said his wife, Martha, did not have injuries. A police report said she told officers her husband pushed her, Supervisor Shawn Nelson said at the time.

Norby’s lawyer, David Borsari, said Assistant District Attorney Ted Burnett called him about noon Monday to tell him there would be no charges because the case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Susan Schroeder, the chief of staff for the District Attorney’s Office, said the decision was based on “the insufficiency of the evidence.”

In an email Monday addressed to friends, family and supporters, Norby wrote, “My arrest was totally unjustified. There was no evidence, there were no witnesses. I was treated with disdain and hostility by those sworn to protect me. Many of you have impugned political motives based on my past and potential future political activities. In the end, however, a thorough investigation and interviews by the D.A.’s office served the interest of justice.”

In an interview the day after his arrest, Norby said he was the victim and that his wife has “severe anger issues.”

Speaking on her front porch the same day, Martha Norby said her husband was “controlling” and “gets angry very quickly.” She said he had abused her ever since their 2009 marriage.

Martha Norby couldn’t be reached immediately Monday afternoon.

The couple have a son and lived with three of Martha Norby’s children from a previous marriage.

Martha Norby sought a restraining order in Orange County Superior Court on March 14, and Borsari said a temporary order was granted that bars Chris Norby from seeing his stepchildren. Another hearing is set for May 2, and Borsari said he’s confident the restrictions will be lifted.

Chris Norby filed for divorce March 20, records show. He cited “irreconcilable differences” and listed the date of their separation as March 12, the day of his arrest.

“Obviously, he’s relieved that the prospect of criminal prosecution is no longer existing in his life, but he’s terribly distraught over the relationship with his stepchildren,” Borsari said.

Borsari said that following the March 12 arrest, he sent Burnett evidence that Chris Norby, not his wife, was the victim of abuse. Borsari said that evidence included a photo showing Norby’s injuries after his wife hit him in December and medical records of visits to three eye doctors.

Schroeder said prosecutors considered that evidence as they do any that’s brought forward in an investigation.

“This is one of those cases where we’re actually thankful that the district attorney took the time to look at everything we had to present to them before making their decision,” Borsari said.

Norby served on the Fullerton City Council for 18 years before being elected county supervisor in 2002. He was elected to the state Assembly in a 2010 special election but lost a race in 2012.

Police were also called to the couple’s home in 2010, but prosecutors did not file charges then, citing a lack of evidence.