In my hometown of Chicago, it appears that the lawyers can generate their own criminal cases without the need for clients. Cook County Public Defender Henry Hams is facing assault charges after a scuffle with Assistant State’s Attorney Mike McCormick. Hams claimed self-defense but prosecutors insisted that the prosecutor was the victim. The jury in Skokie clearly did not agree and yesterday acquitted Hams. McCormick is suing Hams civilly for his injuries.
Hams, 49, says that he was trying to speak with the alleged victim in a case to try to obtain needed documents. He says that McCormick, 52, confronted him angrily and approached him in a manner that he thought was threatening. Hams said McCormick “got in my face” and “was coming at me with his chest out.” Hams thought he was about to hit him and so he proceeded to throw him to the floor and straddled him to allegedly prevent him from getting up. The prosecutor asked to go to the hospital and was treated for minor injuries. However, he was later given surgery to his neck, which he blamed on Hams and is now suing him in civil court. McCormick testified that he did nothing to provoke Ham’s response — a position clearly rejected by the jury.
Notably, this scuffle would normally be a misdemeanor but was charged as a felony because it occurred in a public building.
This has got to give Hams, 20 year veteran with the public defender’s office, a some serious street cred in going back to work with his clients.
As for the civil action, McCormick will get the advantage of the lower standard of proof of a preponderance of the evidence as opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt. However, an acquittal is never a good sign for civil litigation and the criminal trial gives the defense a good gauge on the likely civil trial tactics, including the testimony of the alleged victim.
Source: Chicago Tribune