There was no order to be found in a Santa Ana, California courthouse on Thursday morning. Contrary to popular belief (thanks to television), the practice of law is generally without excitement. Occasionally, verbal blows take place, but this unusual scene began with words and ended with violence. And before anyone could react, a defense attorney landed on the receiving end of flying punches. The attacker, oddly enough, was an Orange Country investigator from the District Attorney’s office.
All of this sounds like high drama (or at least a white-collar UFC fight), and the details are corroborated by witness and photo evidence. According to the LA Times, attorney James Crawford was approached by the unidentified investigator in a hallway. Sheriff Lt. Mark Stichter says Crawford was conducting business as usual with a client when his attacker pounced. The assault started with an airborne paper clip but quickly accelerated:
When Crawford approached his client, the investigator disparaged defense attorneys as “sleazy,” Steering said. Crawford replied that defense attorneys were no worse than the Orange County district attorney’s office, which has been mired in an ever-widening scandal over the use of testimony from inmate informants.
As Crawford walked away, the investigator flicked a large paper clip at the lawyer, Steering said. Crawford then tossed the clip back toward the investigator. “The investigator then grabs [Crawford’s] head and slams it into the bench and then punches him like 10 times in the face and head,” Steering said.
Sheriff’s deputies descended upon the pair and ejected the investigator but not before Crawford sustained a swollen eye and lacerations. Authorities believe that Crawford, who regularly wins high-profile cases, may have been targeted after scoring a retrial for a gang member on murder charges, so perhaps the investigator was hell bent on retribution.
After seeking medical attention for his wounds (which included a sinus fracture), Crawford immediately pressed charges against the attacking party. No one has been arrested yet, but the Sheriff’s office is investigating. These injuries look absolutely brutal.