An Orange County defense attorney suffered a bloodied face and fractured nose after a brawl with a district attorney's investigator in a courthouse hallway, his lawyer said. James Crawford was speaking with a witness in the courthouse Wednesday morning when an investigator asked him who he was and called defense lawyers "sleazy," said Jerry Steering, Crawford's attorney. The men traded insults and the investigator threw a metal document clip at Crawford, which he threw back, Steering said. The investigator then grabbed Crawford, slammed his head into a bench and began punching him. Steering said Crawford did not strike back. The Orange County DA's office declined comment. The county sheriff's department is investigating the incident, which was reported Friday by the Orange County Register.
"There are two sides to every story and that is certainly true here," says an attorney for the investigator. The state AG's office will review the incident, which has stoked outrage among many defense attorneys. "It is an affront to the criminal justice system and to the citizens of Orange County that this DA would allow this to happen on his watch and stay completely silent," says a rep of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. The fight comes amid a simmering scandal over the Orange County DA's use of jailhouse informants and related evidence; Crawford recently won a new trial for a suspect in the 1998 murder of a pregnant woman. The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, which represents DA's investigators, said there were many witnesses to the fight. "His one-sided version of events is simply not true," says the association's president.