Indiana Man Attacks Lawyer in Courthouse; Another Lawyer Sort of Helps

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In June 2007, prosecutors filed charges against a man who assaulted a lawyer in an Indiana courthouse and allegedly tried to push her over a fourth-floor railing.  According to the report, Russell Timmons attacked Linda Polley after a hearing in a case in which Timmons and his wife were plaintiffs and Polley represented an insurer.  The dispute was apparently over a binding mediation agreement that resulted in the couple getting $42,000.  Not happy with that, they tried to back out of the agreement.  A judge enforced the agreement and ordered them to pay $4200 in attorney fees.  Not happy with that, Timmons tried to throw Polley over a railing.

Under the common law, of course, one way to signal intent to appeal a court ruling was to throw your opponent off a cliff or to project him or her from another sufficiently high place.  Once lawyers were invented, throwing the lawyer sufficed.  But this has not been the law anywhere in the United States since at least 1978, so that Timmons' action was both unnecessary and legally ineffective.

Much more importantly, it would have resulted in a four-story drop and at least very serious injuries for Ms. Polley, so luckily others were nearby to help fend off the attack.  That sort of included attorney Theodore Hammond, who was walking along with Polley when Timmons came up behind them.  The report says that Hammond was "attempting to pull Timmons off Polley," and he was — but as the security video below shows, he did it with just one hand, never letting go of the files he was holding under his other arm during the entire incident.

Now that's true attorney heroism — save a life with one hand, keep your files in good order with the other.  You don't want to have to re-collate those.

Oddly enough, most of the comments to this story on the website where I found it were relatively supportive of Timmons, or at least they weren't sure from the video whether he should really be charged with attempted murder.  Here's a fairly representative example (posted under the heading "All be damned"):

If the prosecuters really think thats attempted murder. Where the heck was that charge when it's just a regular taxed person?  Whom got drug 3/4 mile or longer. Oh it's an attorney that's where they all stick together an kiss each others a$$. Like in my case i had many folk's see me getting drug underneath that pickup truck. But that doesn't consitute that harsh of a feloney. I'd bet the lady that got drug from the tavern. Would like to see that charge given to the a$$hole that done that to her. I tried like crazy to push that charge. I guess next time i'll video tape it. From all angles. That way everyone else can be a judge,jury and prosecuter. That my other two cents worth. And i'm running out. Anyone got a dime?

Evidently regular taxed people are gettin' drug thisaway and thataway in Indiana and the legal system treats these cases somewhat inconsistently.  More to come on that, I'm sure, but only one commenter made the point I'm interested in: "Drop the folder Hammond. . . . [W]as the folder handcuffed to you?"

[UPDATE: Timmons was later acquitted of attempted murder, but convicted of other charges and sentenced to jail.  What happened to Hammond and his files is still unknown.]

Link: (Lafayette, Indiana)