Attorney says Orange County district attorney investigator attacked him at courthouse

Thursday, March 10, 2016
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Defense attorney James Crawford said an investigator with the Orange County District Attorney's Office attacked him at the Central Justice Center.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A defense attorney said he was attacked at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana by an investigator for the Orange County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday.

James Crawford said he was meeting with a witness outside a courtroom on the 10th floor of the courthouse at about 10:30 a.m. when the confrontation began.

"All I was trying to do was simply talk to the witness and give her the information she needed so she could make her appropriate choices and he started commenting on how defense attorneys are sleazy and I simply reminded him that the district attorney's office isn't too much better," Crawford said.

Crawford was referring to the controversy over the use of jailhouse informants by police and prosecutors in Orange County.

MORE: Orange County DA's office caught up in jailhouse informant scandal

"He slammed my head into the bench and he proceeded to assault me and punch me eight to 10 times in the face," Crawford said. "I wasn't fighting back. I was not assaulting him."

The attorney suffered a black eye, a bloody nose and a mark on his cheekbone.

One of Crawford's client, convicted murderer Henry Rodriguez, was recently granted a new trial after Crawford accused prosecutors of illegally using a jailhouse informant.

MORE: Man granted third trial in Orange County double murder

A judge ruled in Rodriguez's favor, stating prosecutors failed to turn over records in Rodriguez's 2006 trial that showed a witness was a prolific jailhouse snitch who helped provide evidence to law enforcement.

Crawford said he didn't know his attacker and wasn't sure if the investigator recognized him from the Rodriguez case.

There were witnesses to the scuffle and the Orange County Sheriff's Department is investigating.

The district attorney's office said it's cooperating with the investigation and said the case will be referred to the state attorney general's office.