Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

An attorney representing an Orange County District Attorney’s Office investigator said Thursday that his client was injured in a brawl with a defense attorney at the Santa Ana courthouse and that the lawyer’s claims he was attacked are “inaccurate.”

“There are two sides to every story and that is certainly true here,” said attorney Paul Meyer, who represents the investigator.

“The one-sided version currently being circulated is simply not accurate,” Meyer said. “The independent witnesses and favorable evidence and injuries to the investigator will be evaluated. We believe it is in everyone’s best interest to let the investigation proceed.”

The brawl broke out about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday on the 10th floor of the Central Justice Center, 700 W. Civic Center Drive.

Sheriff’s deputies and Santa Ana police officers who were on scene waiting to testify in unrelated cases moved in and separated the pair. No one has been arrested, sheriff’s Lt. Mark Stichter said.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office issued a statement saying it was cooperating with the sheriff’s department investigation, the results of which will be forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Prosecutors said today they would not release the investigator’s name.

Crawford’s attorney, Jerry Steering, criticized authorities for not releasing the investigator’s name and insisted his client was innocent.

“The investigator who beat up Mr. Crawford wouldn’t have Paul Meyer as his lawyer unless he believed that he could be subject to criminal prosecution,” Steering said.

“Mr. Meyer’s (statement) merely states that, ‘The one-sided version currently being circulated is simply not accurate.’ Well, what’s not accurate about it Mr. Meyer?”

Steering added: “We would appreciate Mr. Meyer telling us his client’s version of the incident. We would even be happy if Mr. Meyer told us the identity of his client, since our ‘protectors’ (i.e. the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department) have so far refused to do so.

“There is nothing that prevents the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department from doing so. It’s amazing how rights-oriented the police become when it’s their rights at stake.”

Defense attorney James Crawford on Wednesday contended the investigator attacked him.

“I was assaulted,” Crawford told City News Service Wednesday. “He came up behind me, slammed my head on a bench and proceeded to punch me numerous times in the head.”

Crawford was appointed to represent a witness in an upcoming trial, who was weighing whether to accept an offer from prosecutors to testify under immunity. He said he was advising the witness of her rights when the investigator interrupted them.

“I was simply trying to advise the witness and he kept interfering, saying all defense attorneys are sleazy,” Crawford said.

Crawford retorted with criticism that the District Attorney’s Office has violated the rights of defendants in the use of jailhouse informants.

Crawford recently won a new trial for a client, Henry Rodriguez, in a murder case made against the defendant based on testimony from an informant.

An Orange County Superior Court judge sided with Crawford that his client’s constitutional rights were violated because information about the snitch was not turned over to the defense attorney as required by law.

“I told him (the informants) were illegally used to win convictions and he didn’t like that and went berserk,” Crawford said.

Crawford referred further questions to Steering, who said the investigator was protective of the witness.

According to Steering. the investigator asked Crawford, “Who the hell are you?”, which prompted Crawford to reply he “was appointed by the court to advise this lady about her rights.”

The investigator “scoffed” and “moved aside,” Steering said.

The “sleazy” accusation sparked the argument, Steering said.

“Mr. Crawford was walking away when this very mature police officer called him a douche bag,” Steering said. “So he retorted, ‘Well (expletive) you.’ “

The investigator then allegedly picked up a “heavy paper clip” and “whipped” it at Crawford, Steering said.

When Crawford “whipped it back at him,” the investigator “grabs Mr. Crawford’s head and smashed his head into the bench.”

The investigator then punched Crawford “repeatedly” until the deputies and officers pulled him off of the defense attorney, Steering said.

Crawford sustained two black eyes and his left eye was swollen shut by yesterday evening, Steering said.

After the brawl, “there was blood everywhere,” Steering said.

— City News Service 

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