The bruised and bloody gentleman in the photo above is James Crawford, a defense attorney who works in Orange County. The photo was taken today, after a brutal encounter Crawford had with an investigator with the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Crawford was injured this morning in an altercation with an unnamed man inside a courthouse in Santa Ana. The Times cited a lieutenant in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department when it identified the other man as a DA’s investigator.

It is unclear whether the investigator suffered any injuries. According to Jerry Steering, an attorney representing Crawford, the altercation was one-sided. “It wasn’t a fight,” Steering told me over the phone this afternoon. “Do you mean when the investigator kicked my guy’s ass?”

The Times notes that Crawford recently won a victory in court over the DA’s use of jailhouse informants, an ongoing scandal in Orange County. Crawford represented Henry Rodriguez, an accused killer, who was recently given a new trial because prosecutors did not disclose that a key witness in his case was an inmate who had acted as an informant on several other cases.

According to Steering, the investigator remarked to Crawford that defense attorneys are “sleazy,” and Steering responded that Orange County prosecutors are no better. Then, the investigator flicked a paperclip at Crawford, which Crawford threw back.

Then, “He slammed me into a wood bench and punched me repeatedly. … I don’t remember if he was saying anything at the time,” Crawford told the Times. Steering tells the paper that the investigator punched Crawford “like 10 times in the face.”

I asked Steering whether he believed that Crawford’s win in the Rodriguez case had anything to do with the altercation.

“It was a pretty notorious case, and it was less than two weeks ago. And my guy was the guy who made the DA’s office look like criminals, like disgusting, horrible people. So they didn’t like that. I don’t know if that was the reason. Maybe the guy’s girlfriend dumped him, I don’t know,” he answered.

No arrests were made, according to the Times. The Orange County Sheriff’s department is investigating.

Photo via Jerry Steering. Contact the author at