Norby and His Protectors: Why I Filed a Public Records Request about His Actions


 Powered by Max Banner Ads 
Norby (film-grain photo with distorted background)

What are we, and what aren’t we, justified in wanting to know about our elected officials?

Orange County Democracy

This is the long-delayed* story about Chris Norby that I have not wanted to write. Within it, I acknowledge rumors that I heard about Assemblyman Chris Norby and domestic violence – ones that I found both personally disturbing and plausible enough that I wanted to find out whether they were true.

Norby is not my opponent in next month’s election, which ought to suggest that my interest in pursuing this matter was not primarily political. (When I began to investigate it, I expected that the Democratic Party would run a sacrificial lamb against Norby, so that winning the seat was not an issue.) Instead, it was about my taking the issue of domestic violence seriously, my wanting to know whether Assemblyman Norby had engaged in it, and – also of substantial importance – whether the Fullerton Police Department had covered it up. I make no apology for any of that.

*(Commenting on R. Scott Moxley’s second story in four days both slamming me for having made a public records request about Chris Norby and for my reluctance to follow through on writing about rumors that I could not substantiate, Gabriel San Roman of the OC Weekly last night wittily called this reluctantly promised piece “the ‘Chinese Democracy’ of blog posts.”  Well played, GSR!  For the uninitiated, that’s the name of a decades-long-delayed Guns N’ Roses album.

This story is not at its core about what, if anything, Chris Norby physically did to his wife on Sept. 2, 2010.  I don’t know what took place at his house that day – which is why I had put the story aside – and I can’t get the official records. This is a story about why I sought information relevant to the question of what he had done that day. It’s also about why I stopped trying to investigate – and why, unfortunately, I feel that I have to explain it all now.  The argument from FFFF and now the OC Weekly is, in essence, that I should not have taken an interest in “another man’s marriage” – as Moxley has put it – leaving out of that statement, of course, that my interest derived from apparently credible reports of domestic violence, which is not a private issue.

From the moment that Scott Moxley solicited and published an unflattering nude drawing of me (one that was not based on any photo I’ve had taken or any self-description I’ve ever made) for countywide publication in OC’s free alternative weekly and online, I have felt that I’m being used to send a message to others not to probe too deeply into the secrets of OC’s political power structure – or at least those quarters of it that Moxley favors.  This is all the more putrid given that the pressure and punishment is coming from an investigative journalist.  If you don’t think that this story ought to have been published, I would agree with you – except that when one’s not publishing a story is characterized (in an exceptionally nasty way) as one’s obviously not having any reasonable grounds for having taken even the first benign steps towards investigation, then I think that it’s fair to explain exactly what did happen to prompt that investigation.

What prompted my investigation was this brief police report about an alterncation involving Chris Norby and his wife, which I’ve reproduced just below with a key phrase highlighted, and the many reports that have circulated around it since its publication.

Norby police report (my highlighting)

If I have anything to apologize for, I think it’s (1) that in publishing this now I may be letting myself be used by Norby’s supporters in some scheme to build sympathy for him and to score political points against his opponent prior to next month’s election and (2) that I gave up pursuing the truth too easily. As to the latter, I had neither the time or the expertise to proceed further than I did and I didn’t like the idea of shopping around the story. (Yes, I did ultimately shop the story around to my critic Moxley – but that’s not exactly what it seems. More on that at the end.)

How This Article Came to Be

(Unless you’re already a devoted fan of the “inside baseball” of Fullerton politics and the North OC political blogosphere, you’ll probably want to skip this section. Save yourself!)

I’m publishing this story at all, frankly, only because I’ve been goaded into it. After I turned in my public records request at the end of May to Fullerton’s City Clerk – I’ll explain that timing later in this article as well – and (to my surprise) had it rejected by the City of Fullerton’s attorney on what seemed on its face to be appropriate grounds, I had decided to drop the matter.  Others, apparently, had different ideas.

Weeks later, an anonymous writer at FFFF, “Mr. Peabody,” claimed to have subsequently done one of his allegedly occasional public records requests about who had recently turned in public records requests and discovered my request. (My suspicion is that’s that not true and that instead he was tipped off by a member of the City Council – presumably one of the three associated with FFFF.  I could try to find out whether his claim of routinely submitting public record requests was true by turning in yet another public records request, but I’m afraid that that level of recursion might cause a rift in space-time and destroy the universe, so I’ve leaned against doing it so far.)

“Mr. Peabody’s” story initially led to a wild round of comments on FFFF at accusing me without evidence of doing dirty work for the Sharon Quirk-Silva campaign. In fact, I had gone through quite a bit of trouble to keep Quirk-Silva and her husband Jesus Silva from knowing what I was doing and when – partly because I didn’t want them to be implicated and partly because I didn’t want them to try to stop me, as I thought they might.  Jesus (that’s pronounced “hey Zeus”) is a colleague of mine on the Democratic Party of Orange County Executive Board with whom I’d worked closely in 2011 in trying to address some problems the party of internal party governance; I had developed (and still have) a lot of respect for him and didn’t want to strain that relationship.

So the first thing I did was set the record straight: this was my independent action.  People more or less accepted that and then moved on to accusations that I was “dumpster diving” – the equivalent of going through Chris Norby’s trash can looking for incriminating information about him.  (Ironically, the word on the blog is that some FFFF editors had done exactly that to a political opponent in the past, but I don’t have personal knowledge that that’s true. As I recall, no one who claimed relevant knowledge denied it.)  More frustrating for me is that a “public records request” seeks out PUBLIC RECORDS, not private trash – something, in other words, to which one may freely seek access – so the accusation of “dumpster diving” struck me as almost insane. It proved very popular on FFFF, though, where such subtleties are often overlooked.

The other argument that people on FFFF made, which (while incorrect) potentially had a bit more force to it, was that I was clearly making the whole thing up and had nothing to back up my suspicion. The obvious response to that would be to publish everything I knew. I didn’t want to do so, though – and you’ll see why in the next section. I had spoken to people who provided pretty disturbing hearsay, but I didn’t have direct testimony, and even those giving me hearsay didn’t want to be identified. (You’ve seen in the OC Weekly treatment of me over the past week what can happen to critics.) So, perhaps not to my credit, after a while of just not convincing myself to write the story I decided to postpone my work on it indefinitely. A week ago, as I publish this, I did not plan to write any further about this matter before the election – nor probably after it.  Sometimes the people covering something up win.

Then, the OC Weekly’s Scott Moxley rode into the fray, publishing a story making sloppy accusations and demonstrably false claims about me, accompanied by a drawing of me, in the manner of a famous photo (published by Moxley this past Sunday, I suppose for those who hadn’t gotten the reference) as a fat man blogging in the nude.  I suspect, again without being able to prove it, that Moxley is one of the anonymous commenters on FFFF who has been regularly and viciously abusive – but someone else will have to ask him about that, because he’s not answering my questions. (The one who I thought was most likely him, I think, was a guy named “nipsey,” who has been continually interested in whether I was eventually going to write my Norby story. So, apparently, has Moxley – and I can’t offhand remember anyone except maybe Bushala else who cared.)

So, I’ve struggled with this for the past week. Do I write it, or do I not write it?  Moxley seems to be close to the Tony Bushala camp, fawning about them uncritically, and has been credulous towards the Costa Mesa pro-charter and anti-union crusade. (Like Bushala, he’s fanatically anti-union; you can see an example of this in his recent coverage of the Democratic Party’s Truman Dinner, which I critiqued on these pages. Moxley claims not to have read or even known about my story criticizing his ignorance and bias.  OK, could be.  Whatever.)

I decided a couple of days ago that I do have to write it, to dispel the notion that I was making the whole thing up. I’m going to leave some things out, though, because they seem to cross some line of what one can discuss without having spoken to witnesses. (To be clear, what I’m leaving out does not include physical or sexual abuse of children; it’s disturbing, but not THAT level of disturbing.)  The conversation that creeped me out the most was one that took place in a consultation with me in my capacity as an attorney, so aside from noting its existence I am not going to talk about that conversation, who it was with, or its specific contents at all.  (I mention it here simply to reassure the person or persons who consulted with me.  Accordinly, people should put no weight on that reference.)

The Background to the Public Records Request

In the summer of 2010 I was County Coordinator of Jerry Brown’s campaign.  (In September, I became Co-County Coordinator, when I started full-time work and had to ratchet down some, sharing the position with two bright young women in or soon to attend grad school.)  We were poorly funded – or, more accurately, we were unfunded – but that was balanced out by our relative lack of volunteer staff.

We did what we could with what we had, went around and made speeches and distributed literature, tried to build up morale by telling people that things were going much better elsewhere in the state, listened to a lot of complaints and suggestions about how Brown was and wasn’t campaigning, coordinated activities related to Brown’s visit to the annual Labor Day Picnic at the Santa Ana Zoo, etc.  Much of my work involved trying to piggyback our efforts on those of two Democratic Assembly campaigns; Melissa Fox’s in Irvine and Esiquio Uballe’s in Fullerton.  I drove around a lot.  Gas was cheaper then.

One consequence of that position is that I talked a lot with a lot of people.  And in late September word came out that Norby had been witnessed “pushing” his fourth wife Martha (in Spanish “Marta,”) not long after learning that she had become pregnant. The story was that a man who was delivering a mattress to their home saw them in the middle of a confrontation in which he physically assaulted her.  (I’ve heard that this was outside on a porch or driveway, but I can’t rule out that it happened inside.)  This was eventually leaked to the <i>Voice of OC</i>; Tony Bushala is convinced that it was leaked by Fullerton Police Department spokesperson then-Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.  I don’t think that anyone has confirmed that, but Tony doesn’t seem to require a whole lot of confirmation beyond his own suspicions.

My recollection until this week was that I was told that Martha Norby had filed a police report that day; reviewing it now, it seems like perhaps she sent the police home empty-handed that day, waited a day, and then went to the police on her own while Norby was gone.  I was told that she had bruises and that photos were taken of them. I believe that I was also told that later, after seeing her husband, she recanted the filing.  I was also told that the Fullerton Police – in a decision that reportedly went all of the way up to then-Chief Sellers – had agreed to keep the matter quiet and that evidence in the case had been removed and possibly destroyed.  That would include the photos of Martha Norby – unless, of course, someone unhappy with such a cover-up had made a copy of them.

I didn’t (and don’t) know that any of that was true; by the time it reached me, it was multiple hearsay. But I did know that (1) it was possible that a first-hand witness, the mattress deliveryman (who may have been one of a pair), was still out there and that (2) if there were photos of Martha Norby’s bruising, it’s possible that they (or copies of them) still existed – or at least that people with knowledge of them could testify about both their contents and their fate. (All of this was important not only because of the intrinsic evil of domestic violence, if any occurred, but because the presence of such material would leave Norby open to blackmail.)

I didn’t do anything to actively pursue an investigation at the time, but I kept being reminded of it.  First, Norby’s friend and patron Tony Bushala, who owns and operates FFFF and who doesn’t seem to be sensitive about much, kept on reacting very strongly on his blog to the occasional reference to the police visit to Norby’s home.  (You may have to participate extensively on FFFF to appreciate how uncharacteristic this sort of defensiveness is from Tony – he’s a guy who loves to attack and rarely deigns to defend.)  His reaction suggested to me that he was worried about something coming out about the police visit to Norby’s house and whatever came before and after.

Second, these events again came to my mind due to acts of Martha Norby’s that suggested that she was resisting a controlling spouse.  The most dramatic such act came when she commented on the Facebook page of Norby’s opponent Sharon Quirk-Silva that Sharon would make a great Assemblywoman.  (This apparently came after an argument with her husband. I had originally thought that this must have been a prank or a hack into her account, but it was apparently from her and from her real account.)

Martha Norby endorsement of Sharon Quirk-Silva

Roughly: “Sharon is the perfect woman for Assembly in Sacramento.”  Like Martha Norby’s allegedly pressing charges against her husband for the events of Sept. 2, this Facebook posting did not survive long in the public view.

In some ways, the weirdest part of the message is the last two words: “call me.”  Why would Martha Norby want her husband’s opponent to call her?

The third thing that continued to bother me was some of the wording of Norby’s denial – aggravated by a rumor that I heard from someone well after the 2010 election.  To see why this gave me pause, look at Norby’s denial of having “shoved” or “pushed” Martha in this Sept. 29, 2010 LA Times story:

The Orange County district attorney is reviewing a case involving a family disturbance between Assemblyman Chris Norby and his wife to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

The case stems from a Sept. 2 incident in which Fullerton police were called to the couple’s home by a deliveryman who overheard Norby and his fourth wife, Martha, in a verbal argument, said police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.

Martha Norby said her husband had pushed her, Goodrich said.

“I didn’t push anybody, she didn’t push anybody, it was purely verbal,” the assemblyman said Wednesday.

The couple, who have been married a year and a half and are expecting their first child in May, were arguing over who would pick up her three older children from school, said Norby, 60.

Martha’s doctor had advised her not to be so active, and Norby insisted that he pick up the kids, he said. He said it was an “animated discussion.”

A substantial amount of hell broke loose in late September and early October over these articles, around the same period of time before that year’s election as we are now before this year’s.  Art Pedroza, in the previous “extra pulp” incarnation of Orange Juice blog, wrote a story defending Norby:

As one might imagine, Martha is very grounded and confident.  And she clearly loves her husband.  The last time I spoke to her, at another function in Fullerton, she expressed concern for Chris’ well-being.  Apparently he has taken to going for long bicycle rides in Sacramento, which really worries Martha.

Martha already had three kids when she married Chris.  I have NEVER seen him be anything but warm with these kids.  Just look at the pictures I have embedded in this post.  They look like a happy family because they are a happy family.

“Why just look at these happy photos!  There’s your proof that they sure do love each other!”  That’s the sort of argument that, if you have any experience with victims of domestic violence, will make you sick.  Men who commit domestic violence may stage public displays of affection, with which a woman is “encouraged” to play along or face private consequences later, to preempt charges of spousal abuse.  That doesn’t mean that this is what happened with the Norby’s; it just means that the above two paragraphs of Art’s are worse than worthless.

Art also argued that the police may have mistaken the word “empujar” (which generally means a physical push) with a psychological push – or influence.  Fine – we often use the word “push” in a similar metaphorical way in English – but that doesn’t explain why a delivery person called in the cops (risking his own job, by the way, if his act provoked a customer complaint.)  Maybe, for some people, seeing a strenuous argument between a couple would be enough for them to call the cops.  While I can’t rule that out, I don’t think that that would be the case for most – especially for a deliveryman who had intruded into his share of arguments.  I wanted to find out, though.  I wanted to get the name of the witness and see if I could talk to him (or his partner, if any) directly.

Pedroza’s article, oddly enough, determined the specific timing of my public records request.  It had been on my mind generally for a while, as discussed below, but what happened that day to trigger my actually going in and doing it was a weird series of events.  A visiting reader here on OJB complained about a story that had been in our archive, written by “admin,” which she apparently thought must mean our publisher Vern.  Vern then said that he would go back and change the authorship of some of the stories that Art had written to show them under Art’s name.  He’d just started to convert them (working backwards, as I recall), and on a whim I decided to go check some out.  This piece linked above, among the last batch of stories that Art wrote before he left and therefore among the first that Vern converted, happened to catch my eye.  When I read it and was repulsed by his reasoning – it reminded me to turn in the request and I added it to that day’s “to-do” list.

The big question, though, is why it had been bubbling around in my mind.  For this, I’ll need to reproduce a long selection from the Voice of OC story, which came out on Sept. 27, 2010:

Chris Norby (R-Fullerton) and his wife, Martha, acknowledged having an argument during the afternoon of Sept. 2 that caused a deliveryman to call the police. But both also say there was no physical altercation or anything else that would warrant a police investigation.

“Nothing happened,” said Chris Norby during an interview Monday. Police “came out and talked to me. They talked to my wife.” He said officers told him that they “have to file something [but] your privacy will be respected.”

However, a public summary of the police report stated that Chris Norby pushed Martha Norby during the argument. Reading from the report, Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said the report stated that “female advised male pushed her.”

Police would not comment further. Goodrich said police are the “fact finders” and it will be up to prosecutors to decide if charges are eventually brought.

Chris Norby called the suggestion that he hurt his wife “absolutely outrageous.” He added that “if anything like that had happened, they would have hauled me away on the spot.”

Asked directly by a reporter if he ever hit his wife, Chris Norby replied: “That’s simply untrue. I never have hit her at anytime in my life.”

Martha Norby also specifically denied that any violence occurred.

“Like any couple, we were arguing,” she said. “But it wasn’t physical violence. My husband has never put a hand on me. I’m a very direct woman, and I wouldn’t lie. I don’t know why they called the police.”

Martha Norby went on to describe herself as “a very sentimental women.” She said the couple had an argument and a deliveryman “thought he [Chris Norby] hit me.”

“Pushed,” “hit,” “hit,” “hand,” “hit.”  (If Norby truly believes that a sitting Assembly would necessarily have been “hauled me away on the spot” by his hometown police based on such a report, then it’s an even worse understanding of gender and society issues than his pig-ignorance comments about how Title IX was unnecessary.  (No, Mr. Norby – powerful figures get away with a lot of things that they shouldn’t and, were the not powerful, wouldn’t.  I’d be happy to put together a posse to help compile a reading list for you.)

In late 2011 or early this year, before Sharon Quirk-Silva had entered the race and when I had recruited a different candidate (a good person, but someone who would be a longshot), I had an interesting conversation with someone about this matter.  We were discussing Norby’s vulnerabilities in the upcoming election and this incident came up.  I noted that Norby denied having hit her or shoved her.  The source (whom I’ll refer to with the pronoun “they,” to keep things gender-neutral) said that they had spoken to one or more people (the vagueness there is in my memory, not as I recall in the story), possibly including police, who had spoken with various neighbors and others with knowledge of the events.  They said that all of the reports had gotten the specifics of the events wrong, from the police report right through to the stories in the press.

According to this hearsay evidence – I can’t stress enough that I do not accept it as a fact – Norby neither hit nor pushed nor shoved his pregnant wife.  He did indeed “never put a hand on her” – at least on that portion of that day.  The story told to me was that it had been a knee.  They had heard was that Norby had forcibly raised up his bent leg and kneed his newly pregnant wife in the stomach.

Again, again – I don’t know if this is true.  I know that that’s what I was told by someone who did not have a personal stake in the upcoming election.  It sure caught my attention, though, especially when I re-read what the Norbys actually said in that article.  The specific verbs: pushed, hit, hit, hand, hit.

I lived some time in rural areas while I was teaching college and I remembered the term I’d heard for this sort of thing (more often a punch or a kick to the stomach): a “redneck abortion.”  (No offense or endorsement of the term intended; that’s just what I’ve heard it called on various occasions.)  It usually doesn’t work, by the way, and obviously Martha Norby brought her preganacy successfully to term.  This sort of forcible trauma to the abdomen can be highly dangerous to the pregnant woman – but that’s mostly in the late stages of pregnancy, when uterine rupture is a possibility.  On Sept. 2, 2010, Martha Norby’s pregnancy has only recently been discovered.

This scenario fit in some important ways with the known facts – which, I will grant here and every time I’m asked, does not make it true.  (Again, this is not a story about what Norby did; this is a story about why I tried to get public information relevant to it.)  Such a reaction, from a father three months away from turning 61 who might have understandably been ambivalent, would be likeliest to come quite early in the pregnancy, before the father had time to get used to and accept the situation.  It would certainly be the sort of thing, much more so than even a loud verbal argument, that would prompt a visiting deliveryman to call out the cops.  And, most importantly, it was something that could be verified by photographs, if photographs still existed (or had ever existed), simply by verifying the location of the bruises.

Up until hearing that story, I’d had a completely different mental image og what had transpired.  If Norby had pushed or shoved his wife, even if only slightly, I had presumed that it might have been in the front of the shoulders, in the arms, maybe the sides, or even conceivably (if she was turning around) the upper back.  That doesn’t justify such violence one bit, but it makes sense if the purpose of the physical pressure was trying to move the person towards Point A or at least away from Point B.

But you don’t push someone in the stomach to maneuver them around.  That’s nuts.  Especially if you’re taller, as Norby substantially is, that sort of force is likely to knock the person being pushed onto the ground, likely right onto their tailbone.  You hit someone in the stomach to double them over and temporarily incapacitate them – or possibly to cause internal injuries.  And if you impact them hard enough to cause abdominal bruising, then you probably hit them – or kneed them, or kicked them – pretty hard.

Then-Sgt. Goodrich had mentioned the existence of photos.  Would the police take photos if there wasn’t anything unusual to photograph?  That’s doubtful.  You’re damn right that I had wanted to see the photos – both to see the location and the intensity of any bruising that they were taken to document.

Deciding to Submit the Public Records Request

As I mention in the section above, the thing that actually prompted me to “submit the Public Records request about Chris Norby” on the day that I did  was my happening to run across Art Pedroza’s OJB article explaining how there could have been no domestic violence because … “look at these nice family photos!”  But I had been toying with the idea long before that, after I got a better sense of what was going on with the Fullerton recall.

To me, the lesser (but still huge) scandal that had been alleged was the “gentleman’s agreement” to disappear the file to protect a powerful Assemblyman.  I hate that sort of thing.  If I ever hold public office and try to get someone to do that for me, please remind me of this story, which I hope will make my even asking for such a favor impossible.

So the problem that I had was that the FPD had apparently committed to protecting the reputation of the local Assemblyman, I suppose because that’s just how things are done.  But as the recall election neared and it became clear that the new slate would win, I realized that it was likely that people in the FPD who might know about any coverup might now no longer feel as strongly about protecting information about Bushala’s friend and ally, Norby.  If there was to be a shake-up, maybe any suppressed evidence in this case would be among the things to be shaken loose.  Certainly, if this is true, the police have reason to be disgusted — and the FPD is not the least leaky organization around.

I take domestic abuse extremely seriously and I wanted to know if Norby was a batterer.  Still, I wanted to proceed cautiously, so I put in a public records request seeking information about the case and the investigation. I specifically wanted two things: the name of the witness and any photos taken of Martha Norby in the wake of the events.  While photographs of abdominal bruising might be damning, the name (just the name!) of the witness would not be — it would depend on what the witness subsequently had to say, if the witness is still around. I might also be able to find the name of his partner in the delivery, if any; the name of the company; etc. that a better investigator than I am — such as Moxley or one of the other journalists around — might be able to use to get to the truth.

So, I turned in the request.  As noted above, it was rejected as privileged information and I dropped the matter. Then FFFF and then Scott Moxley picked it up to try to beat me with it.  I ignored the first swipe, but I couldn’t ignore the second.  Ironically, this would mean that I’d have to defend myself by telling what I had been told, so that I could explain why I turned in the request (that I would otherwise at that point have dropped.)  I felt the need to defend my judgment and character, and you’re reading the result.

What Happens Now?

So far as investigating Chris Norby is concerned, probably nothing.  But there are some good bets to place.

First, I expect that FFFF and OC Weekly will pivot quickly from daring me to publish this article to screaming that I never should have published it.  And, if it were an exposé on Norby, for which I had been unable to get the goods, they’d be right — which is why I didn’t want to (and would not have) published it.  But, thanks to them, it’s not: now it’s a matter of my defending my own judgment and honor by explaining what prompted me to put in a public records request that I had every legal right (and arguably every moral responsibility) to pursue.  They will, of course, ignore that — and since Scott Moxley and Tony Bushala both have higher readership than I do here, in the eyes of many people they will probably be convincing.  For those who want to perceive the lesson that one should not cross people who — in Paul Lucas’s words in response to Moxley’s first story about me, “one should never pick a fight with those who buy ink (pixels) by the gallon” — this will be a good example of why.  For my part, though, even with foreknowledge of that, I would still have turned in that request based on what I’d heard and accepted the consequences.

Second, I expect that they will try to tie my submitting a public records request (and now, unhappily, explaining why) to Sharon Quirk-Silva’s campaign and to build up sympathy for Norby in the AD-65 race.  If that happens, that will be a terrible shame and completely unfair, because my sense is that Sharon and her campaign are, if anything, probably terrified about my bringing this up because they know what the right-wing press are likely to do with it an affront to one of their golden boys.  When Norby was found sleeping off being drunk on the (Old?) OC Courthouse steps a few years ago, if I have that right, it was apparently employed to his political advantage to make him seem sympathetic — and that wasn’t just a rumor leading to quiet, minor, and legal personal investigation, it definitely happened.  That’s the reason that I’ve tried to be as explicit as possible about what I was told and what I was thinking and what prompted my actions at every step in the way.

We, unfortunately, live in a world where even asking questions about whether a police investigation might have collected evidence that someone may have kneed (or kicked, etc.) his pregnant wife in the stomach is considered worse than potentially having kneed or kicked the pregnant wife in the stomach.  The one thing I’ll say for Sharon and Jesus — without even having had to ask them — is that I’m sure that they both think that that’s a terrible condition for a society.  The irony of FFFF possibly screeching over this article, when tossing out unsourced or unmoored charges against people has been its stock in trade for years, is stunning.  But, we’ll see.

Scott Moxley made his position on these events involving Norby quite clear: he does not care.  While I would have gladly shared this information with him when I offered to do so in the past couple of weeks, I rightly expected that he would not do so.  If that was the case, I wanted to get him on record as not having been interested in a potentially very big story (once properly investigated by him or others.)  I made the offer to tell him what I knew (short of violating confidentiality of sources) at least twice, probably three or more times — I’d have to check our e-mails — and he didn’t nibble at it.  So, now he knows what I was told by others and he can decide whether or not spurning the story was the right decision.  I expect that he’ll slam me, but I’ll eventually publish the communications (which he, as noted, already started to do in his first story), and people can judge us both for themselves.

The likely coming slaughter in the media is not actually what I feel worst about, though.  I — and here I echo many of the people with whom I’ve spoken about this in the past two years — am worried about Martha Norby and her kids.  For their sake, I wish that I hadn’t been put into the position of my either writing this or else be considered a liar.

I’ve heard stories that Norby has threatened Martha with deportation and keeping both her and their kids himself if she caused him any political trouble related to domestic violence or marital bliss.  Once again, I don’t know if that’s true, though if it is then it would explain Martha’s strange “one step forward, two steps back” history of taking actions criticizing or resisting her husband — and then undoing them.)

It seems plausible that Chris Norby just wants to try to keep up appearances of a happy and faithful and non-violent marriage through the election.  After that — well, two years is a long time to heal one’s image.  Martha may be able to separate from him while maintaining her right to citizenship (a procedure that is available to victims of domestic violence.) I’m not sure what to believe, but I’ve been told (hearsay again) by someone who claims to know that she is very aware of her legal rights.  I had pretty much given up on any successful attempt to get to the bottom of things before Election Day; even though I didn’t think he would accept, that’s why I hoped that Moxley would take me up on my offer to tell him all of the information I felt I could share — which you see published above — and to let him to use his investigative skills to find the truth.

I had doubted that anyone would push Norby on this matter before the election — I had decided not to do so — and no one else seemed disposed to.  But, if the Norbys were to divorce after the election, either by joint and condiential agreement or by Martha Norby exercising her right to unconditional permanent resident status as a victim of domestic violence, then that might (or in the second case would) be evidence that the charges presented to me by my sources were correct.

I doubted that Norby would be called onto the carpet for potential crimes a little bit more serious than, to paraphrase Moxley, “not campaigning hard enough in an election and thereby letting down a party that Moxley does not support.  It’s  why I wrote (as Moxley quoted, prefaces with “”Diamond sought to divert me into probing Norby. When I didn’t take the bait, he sent me this note:”) that “Right now, I’d be satisfied with an ironclad pledge from Norby that if his wife leaves him and asserts that he committed domestic violence against her within a year of the election, he’d immediately resign the seat. Does that seem fair? If he did that, I’d happily drop the issue between now and the election.”  I stand by that sentiment — and it wasn’t a “diversion.”  I wish that Moxley had been bent enough on being an investigative journalist — rather than a politcal hit man for libertarians and settler of personal scores — to have taken me up on it.

What ideally might happen now is that some better journalist than Moxley might pick up the ball — now bouncing around in the open field — and try to find the name of the witness, try to talk to the neighbors, try to talk to people who might have heard the same rumors that I did, talk to Michael Sellers and Pat McKinley and whatever other police sources they have — and see if there’s anything to it.  (And, especially, if there are photos.)  But there’s an easier path that the Norbys can take if Chris Norby feels maligned here.

I can’t get the information I sought from the Fullerton Police Department — at least not without a fight for which I don’t have the time or resources.  But, as I read the letter from the City of Fullerton’s lawyer, Martha Norby can get those records (and possibly Chris Norby as well.)  So, if they want to put the rumors to rest — and I honestly hope that they’re not true, for the sake of their family — they can demand that the F.P.D. open its files on the matter, publicly produce all evidence in their possession (and account for that which wasn’t), and allow Lt. Andrew Goodrich and anyone else on the force to speak confidentially to reporters (not including anyone at OJB) about this matter without fear of consequences.

I couldn’t determine that Norby had done anything wrong — and I also couldn’t clear his name.  I’ve been forced to publish this article, but the positive aspect of this is that it does allow for Norby’s name to be cleared.  All that it requires is a waiver of confidentiality by Chris and Martha Norby.  I can’t provide such a waiver; they can.  I hope that they will — because I still want to know the truth about what happened that day and since.

(P.S. to FFFF: this is under 7000 words.)


About Greg Diamond

Worker's rights attorney now moving into "good governance" litigation. North Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Orange County and occasional candidate. Proud to be prolix. Unless otherwise specifically stated, his writings never speak for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Brea but generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and without compensation, although in 2014 he may receive some compensation for campaign consulting and fundraising for the campaign of Jorge Lopez for Orange County Assessor.