Video shows man punching his own attorney in Phoenix court
PHOENIX — A public defender who was punched in the face by a client in a Phoenix courtroom last year says he was mistreated by county staff after the incident.
Attorney Vladimir Gagic told ABC 15 the Office of Public Defense Services suspended him from working as a contract attorney for Maricopa County a month or two after the assault.
He said staff also asked him to return the $1,000 they had paid him to represent Lamont Payne, but he was able to get them to pay for the hours he had already put in.
A Maricopa County spokesperson told the TV station that Gagic’s suspension was due to “multiple complaints about his lack of communication.”
Gagic refuted that claim and said he plans to sue the county.
In the Maricopa County Superior Court video obtained by ABC15, Payne grows agitated with Gagic and complains to the judge that he is not speaking up for him.
The judge tells Payne to stop speaking out of turn and after about a minute decides to remove him from the room.
As security starts to lead Payne out of the room, he turns to Gagic and sucker punches him in the face.
According to ABC15, Payne was in court for a 2016 charge of assaulting a corrections officer.
Court documents show Payne pleaded guilty in May of this year to assaulting Gagic, and he has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault numerous other times since the late 1990s.