I suppose it's time for a little comic relief at the end of a long week. I can't say that this thought hasn't crossed my mind before -- however I've never contemplated acting on it.
A Cook County assistant public defender who represents convicted felons now has to worry about keeping himself out of jail after being accused of pushing and choking a prosecutor at the Criminal Courts Building.
Henry L. Hams, 47, of Chicago was charged late Thursday afternoon with aggravated battery and resisting arrest after a rare scuffle that sent waves of whispers and startled reactions through the building at 26th Street and California Avenue.
Hams and the prosecutor, 50, had just left a courtroom where a discussion about the routine setting of a future court date became contentious. Still upset, Hams complained to the assistant state's attorney outside the courtroom, according to a law enforcement source.
The prosecutor "apparently said, 'Too bad, that's the date the judge set,' and (Hams) just lost it and shoved (the prosecutor) against the wall," the source said. "He said something about how he was sick of being mocked."
The prosecutor "was stunned and didn't do anything, and the next thing you know (Hams) had him in a headlock," the source said.
Another source who witnessed the incident said he heard a scuffle and saw Hams choking the prosecutor. "He had his hands wrapped around his throat and was just kind of riding him down the wall," the source said.
A Cook County sheriff's department sergeant and deputy rushed to intervene as Hams was alleged to have throttled the larger prosecutor.
"When our deputies attempted to break it up, Hams was on top of the victim choking him with both hands around his neck," said Steve Patterson, a sheriff's department spokesman. "When one of the two deputies attempted to pull Hams off the victim, Hams continued choking the victim with one hand and attempted to resist the deputy's efforts with his other hand."
The sergeant's back was injured, and both he and the victim were taken to local hospitals for minor injuries.
During questioning by the sheriff's office's criminal intelligence unit investigators, Hams, who will appear for a bond hearing Friday, indicated that he wanted a lawyer and said nothing further to them, Patterson said.
Hams works out of the post-conviction unit for the public defender's office and the victim works out of the special litigations section for the state's attorney's office. Patterson said the two only knew each other through legal proceedings.
News of the fracas spread quickly through the hallways. Nobody wanted to talk on the record, but many expressed surprise.
"That guy is like (TV character Steve) Urkel -- he's this little, quiet dude," said a veteran courthouse lawyer, chuckling. "(The victim) is going to hear about this one forever."