Chris Brown's life got a whole lot easier Friday, as a judge congratulated the R&B singer on finishing a domestic violence education program -- a milestone that means he will no longer have to be present in court for progress hearings every three months.
Brown finished the 52-week course in December, proudly posting his certificate online. He was sentenced to five years' probation and 180 days of community service, plus the class, after pleading guilty in August 2009 to the felony assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna after a party the night before the Grammy Awards in February 2009.
A five-year protective order requiring Brown to stay 50 yards away from Rihanna, or 10 yards if they were both at the same industry function (say, on the Grammys red carpet), was also put in place.
Given Brown's progress and no incidents related to the two crossing paths, Judge Patricia Schnegg on Friday seemed inclined to change it to a "level one, do not annoy" order, but acting in what she called "an abundance of caution," she said she'd consider the change after Rihanna's attorney was consulted. Rihanna had said previously through her attorney that the order wasn't necessary.