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Defense Attorney Injured in Fight With Investigator

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 17, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Orange County defense attorney James Crawford suffered contusions on his face and a very obvious black eye after getting involved with a physical tussle with the local district attorney's investigator. It appears that the investigator confronted Crawford and physically battered him. The investigator's attorney told local newspapers that Mr. Crawford's account of the incident didn't capture both sides of the story. "There are two sides of every story and that is certainly true here," he said.

The incident highlights the growing tension within the Orange County legal system that has been building up since 2015.

Crawford's Account

According to Crawford, he was speaking with a witness and interpreter in the hallway outside on a tenth-floor courtroom, when a DA investigator he did not recognize accosted him orally and physically. The investigator called defense attorneys "sleazy," grabbed Crawford and slammed his head into a hallway bench.

Devil in the Details

That's at least one version of the story. Another version has the investigator insulting Crawford and throwing a metal binder clip at Crawford, who then returns fire by throwing it back at the investigator.

Either way, it appears that Crawford took a fair bit of damage. He was carted off to the emergency room where it was determined that he suffered a fracture below his left eye.

No Comment

The Orange County DA's office has declined to comment about the incident when asked. DA Tony Rackauckas pointed to state personnel laws and the Officer's Bill of Rights as justification for not disclosing the investigator's name, status or other information.

Defense Lawyers Unite

The fight Wednesday seems to be the latest evidence of Orange County justice system tension. Since 2015, a handful of criminal cases have collapsed over allegations of withholding evidence and other criminal justice improprieties.

Questions have been raised as to why the investigator wasn't immediately taken into custody, particularly given the nature of Crawford's injuries (which have been well photographed and documented). Crawford believes that the attack (if that's what it was) was in part fueled by anger in Crawford's victory last month in securing a retrial for Henry Rodriguez, one of the cases that fell-apart amidst the aforementioned snitch-scandal.

Possible Charges

Ironically, the investigator's own "sleazy" defense attorney urged the public to refrain from making judgments or comments too hastily. "The one-sided version currently being circulated is simply not accurate," he said.

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