FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A Broward County defense attorney who was hospitalized after an inmate punched her in the courtroom said Wednesday she is on the mend. The attack prompted the Broward Sheriff's Office and the public defender's office to blame each other.
The courtroom's cameras were rolling when William Green, who was waiting for his bond hearing, stood up, walked behind assistant public defender Julie Chase and punched her in the head. Broward Sheriff's Office corrections deputies restrained him immediately after the attack and carried him out of the courtroom.
Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said the reason the 27-year-old inmate was not wearing shackles or handcuffs was because the corrections deputies were complying with requests from defense attorneys. He said the public defender's office asked for a more lax approach to the security procedures during magistrate hearings.
"I understand their concern that having deputies standing close to the inmates or having them wear handcuffs or shackles could imply guilt," Tony said. "They must in turn understand that their requests made it possible for this unusual situation to occur."
Tony said, as a result of Wednesday's incident, all inmates will be handcuffed during court proceedings in Broward County. Court records show Green was arrested on a battery charge for allegedly attacking an employee at a mental health hospital.
Assistant chief public defender Gordon Weekes said the inmate's mental illness should have prompted deputies to restrain Green.
"The screening of that individual in the jail should have identified that they needed, probably, (to be) left to the end of the docket and dealt with in a more-secure fashion," Weekes said.
Chase was taken to Broward Health Medical Center after the attack.
"It’s just a bit of a shock," Chase told Local 10 News as she was leaving the hospital. "I didn't expect it, but I'm doing OK."