Sucker-punched attorney recovering, urges changes for mentally ill in jail

The attorney who was attacked from behind by a jail detainee during a Broward County court hearing is recovering but she says more has to be done about the way people with mental illness are handled within the justice system.

William L. Green, 27, got up from his chair, walked up behind Assistant Public Defender Julie Chase, and landed a blindside left hook to her head on Wednesday. The attack was seen live on camera.

“I felt sharp pain, ringing in my ears, and disorientation,” Chase wrote in a letter to her boss, Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, on Thursday.

She thanked Broward Sheriff’s detention deputies, fellow attorneys, and even the detainees who came to her aid as Green was being subdued and taken away.

“As one might expect a day after taking a hard blow to the head, I’m experiencing a fair amount of discomfort and pain,” she wrote. “At this point, thankfully, it appears the physical consequences of the attack will improve as they should.”

Chase received hospital treatment after the assault.

Green was in court for a previous battery charge stemming from an alleged assault on a medical technician in a mental health ward at Florida Medical Center. He was in treatment for psychoses, investigators said.

After the assault, Green was taken to another mental health facility instead of jail, records show.

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