The union representing the Orange County sheriff’s deputies Friday blasted a decision by the Attorney General’s Office to not pursue criminal charges in a fight between a criminal defense attorney and an Orange County District Attorney investigator.
“It is truly unfortunate that criminal defense attorney James Crawford is being allowed to get away with attacking a sworn peace officer without any consequences,” said Tom Dominguez, the president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.
“We as a society should not tolerate it. As we have stated repeatedly, criminal attorney James Crawford’s one-sided version of events is simply not true. Criminal attorney Crawford and his lawyer Jerry Steering have spent the last several months doing their best to manipulate the media, the public and the criminal defense bar into publicly persecuting a district attorney investigator based on wildly inaccurate facts solely to drum up a pay day.”
Steering said he “expected” the decision from state prosecutors.
“Police are the most dishonest people in the world,” Steering told City News Service. “Nobody lies like a policeman. They apparently haven’t broken stride in this case either.”
Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office sent a letter to Steering on Thursday explaining the decision following a “thorough and independent investigation.”
The Attorney General’s investigators conducted “nearly a dozen follow- up interviews with witnesses” and also reviewed surveillance video and other witness statements.
“When viewed as a whole the evidence shows two different versions of events,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Julie Garland wrote in the letter. “Both parties tell a different story about how the fight started, and both have two to three witnesses who generally corroborate their version of events. And the incident was not captured on the surveillance video.”
The attorney general had to punt because there was no way to tell if it was Crawford or investigator Dillon Alley who was acting in self-defense.
Steering said the county has already rejected a claim filed by Crawford and that he is preparing a civil suit that will be likely filed in federal court soon.
The March 9 scrum happened soon after Crawford won a new trial for a client in a murder case over allegations that prosecutors failed to turn over evidence about an informant.
Crawford claimed Alley beat him up, but some witnesses contended Crawford slapped Alley first, which Steering denies.
A translator assisting Alley in a case said the fight began the hallways of the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana when Alley was talking to a witness and her husband.
Crawford approached them and asked for the witness’ name, which led Alley to demand the attorney’s identity, the translator said in an affidavit.
Crawford replied, “What difference does it make? I was appointed by the judge to represent her,” according to the court interpreter.
Alley replied that he wanted to know because the witness had been harassed by someone in the defendant’s family. The two went down the hall to talk some more “for a few minutes,” but when they returned to the witness Crawford angrily insulted Alley with expletives, according to the translator.
Moments later, Alley allegedly flicked a binder clip at Crawford, which bounced off the lower part of his jacket, according to the translator. Crawford then allegedly picked up the clip and hurled it back at Alley, prompting the fistfight, according to the translator. The interpreter also said at some point as police tried to break it up, Alley declared that “he hit me first” and attempted to back away, but the defense attorney kept lunging at him and yanking his tie.
On the day of the fight, Crawford said he was “assaulted.”
Alley “came up behind me, slammed my head on a bench and proceeded to punch me numerous times in the head,” Crawford said.
— City News Service
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