Celebrity Justice, HOA-Style

According to the celebrity gossip website TMZ.com, Chris Brown's condominium association wants his probation revoked.  As you may recall, Mr. Brown plead guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend, singer Rhianna, and as a result was sentenced to five years of probation.

A condition of Brown's probation is that he will obey "all laws."  This seems like a pretty broad requirement - I mean, do they have a LoJack in his car to make sure he doesn't go three miles over the speed limit?  What if he removes the tag from a mattress?

Brown's condominium association alleges he is a nuisance, playing loud music, parking in handicapped spaces, and vandalizing association property.  The association thinks that Brown's probation should be revoked because he isn't obeying "all laws."

So that makes me wonder...what is a "law?"  According to the definition in my Black's Law Dictionary, "laws" could include rules and regulations that may not necessarily be promulgated by a public entity.  We all know homeowners association occupy a weird little in-between world, where they aren't exactly governmental, but take some actions traditionally taken by governments.  In Colorado, homeowners associations aren't state actors.  A violation of an association's rules is a civil wrong, not a criminal wrong.

Of course, it's possible that Brown's bad acts violate both the association's rules as well as applicable criminal laws.  If this is the case, his probation officer could revoke the probation.  However, given the fact that most California jails are loathe to hold celebrity offenders, it doesn't seem likely that Brown will face jail time for his association "crimes."

It's more likely that the association will impose fines on Brown according to its governing documents, and these fines will probably be paid by the millionaire, and Brown will continue treat the association and his neighbors with disrespect.  Perhaps Brown's actions will become bad enough that the association can obtain an injunction against future bad acts, but as it stands now, he'll probably just keep telling his neighbors to "Kiss Kiss" off.