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Man Punches Attorney and Gets Longer Sentence, Not Better Counsel

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By Deanne Katz, Esq. on October 08, 2012 6:46 AM

Violence doesn't generally solve anything but Lamarcus Williamson was apparently compelled to punch his defense attorney in the face after his sentence was read.

It didn't improve his position in court. Not only had the judge given him the maximum sentence for the crime at issue in the hearing, he got additional time for what happened in the courtroom. It's a general rule that judges like order and they're willing to punish people who go for chaos instead.

Williamson's attorney, public defender Dan Hall, never even saw it coming.

The hearing on Tuesday was to set a sentence for Williamson who pleaded guilty to assault, robbery, and drug charges in an incident involving a female college student.

When the judge announced the sentence of 15 years in prison, Hall put what he probably thought was a reassuring hand on Williamson's arm. His client didn't seem to think so. Moments after that pat on the shoulder Williamson-sucker punched Hall while still handcuffed.

That at least takes some skill. You can see it in this video:

Hall was mostly unhurt except for a split lip and a bruise. He narrowly avoided a broken nose and some missing teeth, reports New York Daily News.

Ignoring the irony of hitting someone during a sentencing for assault, Williamson is lucky he isn't being charged for punching Hall as a separate crime. Any unwanted or harmful contact that results in injury could be charged as battery even though there wasn't much harm done here.

Instead the judge held Williamson in contempt of court and added six months to his sentence.

Judges expect good behavior at all times in the courtroom; that's what all the gavel-banging is about. If anyone - attorney, party, or observer - is disrespectful or acts inappropriately the judge can hold them in contempt.

Being held in contempt means you've defied the judge's expectations for how to act. Often the judge will give someone a warning before holding them in contempt but in the case of physical violence there's not usually a second chance.

Courtroom participants and observers are supposed to know to keep their hands to themselves.

We're guessing Williamson knew the rules and chose not to follow them since he didn't appear surprised when guards hauled him out of the courtroom. Hall told reporters he's never seen that happen in all 25 years as a public defender.

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