Public Defender Found Not Guilty In Case Of Assault On Prosecutor In Cook County

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

21 thoughts on “Public Defender Found Not Guilty In Case Of Assault On Prosecutor In Cook County

  1. If the public defender defends all the defendants except the defendants that defend themselves who defends the public defender?

  2. 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.”

    And empathy for his clients, that is, they may also have some serious cred with him.

  3. I’ve seen the tough guy tactics that the jury saw in McCormick and all I have to say is McCormick should be more prudent in who he tries that schtick on. Or even better, simply don’t do it. Some people don’t respond well to physical intimidation. If your argument is so weak you have no other recourse than pounding on your chest like a chimp in dealing with opposing counsel then you shouldn’t whine when you get put to the floor for getting in someone’s face. Putz. If I were the State AG, you’d really need to be worried about your job, Asst. AG McCormick.

    Good luck on your civil litigation, Mr. Hams.

  4. Dredd,

    After a 20 year record, he is probably neutral. He’s just been “in” McCormicks face by beating him a few times. Sounds like time to find a retirement post for McCormick

  5. I’ve done some research but would like to know what type of case this was. Prosecutors can get quite protective of rape victims. Now, before the gangbangers come @ me I do not condone physical confrontation. But, rape victims have to run a legal gauntlet that is often horrible and prosecutors can sometimes overreact when they think they’re being harrassed. Since the prosecutor is the victim’s attorney they have a right to be present when contacted by defense counsel. Hams is a former pro boxer so it would appear McCormick did pick the wrong mofo to f@ck w/!

    Having had to work cases defending in civil lawsuits people who have beat DUI, rape, assault, etc. charges the attorneys who hired me NEVER considered themselves having a favorable ball/strike count on them just because criminal charges were not proved. It’s 2 very different ballgames..just ask OJ.

  6. “Since the prosecutor is the victim’s attorney they have a right to be present when contacted by defense counsel.”

    No, the prosecutor represents the state, not the victim.

  7. Waldo, A distinction w/o a difference. The victim of a crime has a right to have the prosecutor present prior to being interviewed by defense. In that instance, the prosecutor is acting as the victims counsel, on behalf of the state.

  8. idealist707 1, November 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Dredd,

    After a 20 year record, he is probably neutral. He’s just been “in” McCormicks face by beating him a few times. Sounds like time to find a retirement post for McCormick
    ==============================
    Yep.

    McCor got rage baby.

  9. OT:

    Watergate Records To Be Unsealed After Order From Federal Judge

    By JESSICA GRESKO 11/02/12 03:07 PM ET EDT AP

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/02/watergate-records-unsealed_n_2065603.html?1351874251

    Excerpt:

    “But government attorneys argued that three categories of documents should remain secret: those containing personal information, grand jury information and those regarding the content of illegally obtained wiretaps.

    Lamberth agreed Friday that those documents should remain sealed for now. But he ordered the Department of Justice to copy those documents and explain why each should not be made public. The department has a month to submit that information to the judge who will then decide whether to order the information released.

    The records Nichter is seeking relate to the case of U.S. v. Liddy. The case involved the five men arrested during the Watergate break-in as well as the two men who orchestrated the operation, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt.

    Nichter said in a telephone interview Friday that Lamberth’s order unsealing the records is exciting, but he doesn’t know whether they’ll provide any major Watergate revelations.”

  10. “Waldo, A distinction w/o a difference. The victim of a crime has a right to have the prosecutor present prior to being interviewed by defense. In that instance, the prosecutor is acting as the victims counsel, on behalf of the state.”

    There is a difference. Prosecutor represents the state and you are simply wrong when you state the prosecutor “is acting as the victims counsel.” That’s not the law. Attorney-client privilege for communications between victim and prosecutor does not apply. If victim says things that might incriminate victim and exonerate accused, prosecutor has duty to act on that info. Counsel for victim would advise victim to be quiet and not say anything more. A prosecutor has a legal duty to the state and the system, not the victim.

  11. The victim has a right to have the prosecutor present before speaking w/ the defense, and they also have the right to tell the defense to go shit in their hat. Yes, the victim can hire their own attorney but that is rarely, if ever done. Even if they have an attorney they’ve consulted w/ regarding a possible civil litigation, the private attorney usually lays low so as not to have the possible civil action prejudice the criminal case. Yes, Waldo the victim can say something to a prosecutor and the prosecutor woulds be bound to act on it if it were a criminal offense. However, I think you may have watched too many Perry Masons.

  12. In Sweden, where else, the use of private counsels to the victim(s) is common. See for example the counsel to the two girls who were allegedly raped by Assange.
    And the Gov. pays (ie we via taxes) for it. Defense counsels are routinely paid by the state. And fees are dickered upon.

  13. Isn’t this the same locale where victims of Chicago police torture are suing? And one of the prisoners, after being declared innocent, remains incarcerated? While the leader of the gang of torturers, former police detective, found guilty of perjury serves four years (because the statute of limitations ran out on his brutality, yet his victims remain in prison). What a city.

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