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Attorney Says Orange County DA Employee Punched Him '10 Times In The Face And Head'

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Defense attorney James Crawford after the alleged fight (Photo courtesy of Jerry Steering)
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A bloody fight broke out in a courthouse between a defense attorney and an investigator for the Orange County district attorney's office. Around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, an argument between attorney James Crawford and the investigator quickly escalated into a physical altercation in the 10th floor hallway of the Santa Ana courthouse, according to the OC Register. The fight ultimately left Crawford with a swollen eye, bruised face and bloody shirt.

Jerry Steering, who is representing the attorney, says Crawford was in the courthouse to represent a woman who was subpoenaed to testify in a case, while the investigator—whose identity has not yet been released—was assigned to watch over the woman. According to Steering, when Crawford approached the woman, the investigator made a remark about defense attorneys being "sleazy. Crawford is said to have responded by saying that defense attorneys are no worse than the O.C. district attorney's office, which is currently mired in a scandal over testimony used from . Then, in what sounds like a school hall incident, the investigator is said to have flicked a large paper clip at Crawford. The attorney then tossed the paperclip back at the investigator, and then things reportedly got really ugly.

"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 told the L.A. Times. Sheriff's deputies and Santa Ana police officers, who were nearby for an unrelated case, separated the two men. No arrests were made at the time. And while Crawford was not immediately hospitalized for injuries, Steering tells LAist that he went to the hospital later that night for possible sinus damage.

Crawford filed a police report, and the incident is being investigated by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

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Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs—which represents district attorney investigators—released the following statement regarding the incident:

There were many independent bystanders in the hallway who witnessed exactly what happened in the courthouse. Criminal defense attorney James Crawford's one-sided version is simply not true. A careful investigation will reveal the true facts. We are cooperating fully in that investigation and we look forward to the actual facts being released publicly.

Steering told the Times that a recent legal victory of Crawford's may have been partly what led to the fight.

"The D.A. investigator is assaulting a guy who just got a new trial for someone," Steering said. "It is his only apparent motive."