Public Defender Accused of Assaulting Prosecutor

Thursday, Jun 3, 2010  |  Updated 10:01 PM CDT
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A Cook County assistant public defender has found himself on the wrong side of the law, accused of assaulting an assistant state's attorney.

Henry Hams and an assistant state's attorney were in court Thursday morning and had been arguing about an upcoming court date for a case. The argument resumed in the hallway of the Cook County Criminal Courts building, at 2600 South California Avenue, said Cook County sheriff's spokesman Steve Patterson.

A fight broke out, and around 10:30 a.m. sheriff's deputies attempted to break it up. Authorities said Hams was on top of the
prosecutor with both hands around his neck.

Hams told a bystander he did it because he was "sick of him mocking him," a witness told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The state's attorney, who has not been named because he was not charged with a crime, and a deputy suffered minor injuries.

The 50-year-old prosecutor was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. The Sun-Times quotes an official saying that "he might be injured very badly," though the Chicago Tribune's sources say he was only taken to the hospital for observation.

The 47-year-old Hams was charged with resisting arrest and aggravated battery in a public place.  Both are felonies.

The lawyers appeared to have known each other only through legal proceedings, Patterson said.

Hams' attorney Richard Kling confirmed there was an altercation in the courts building Thursday, but said it was unclear who
started it. He questioned why both attorneys weren't charged.

"There's two sides to every story," he said.  "It's not clear why my client was charged. It'll have to shake its way out in
court."

Hams, of Chicago, works in the post-conviction unit for the Cook County Public Defender's office. He has been licensed to practice law since 1989, according to the state's Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

It was not immediately clear whether the charges would affect his license. A phone system for the disciplinary commission could not take messages after business hours Thursday.

The assistant state's attorney has worked in special litigations, Patterson said.

Cook County state's attorney spokeswoman Tandra Simonton declined to comment Thursday, as did the Cook County Public Defender's office.

Hams remained in custody Thursday. He was expected in bond court Friday.

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