CLEARWATER– Donald O’Leary, 67, has taken his share of lumps in 40 years as a practicing lawyer, but nothing like what happened in a Pinellas courtroom this morning.
O’Leary’s client, Trenton Maverick Herron, 30, punched O’Leary it the back of the head moments after Herron received a life sentence for armed robbery in a court division that specializes career criminals.
“He got sentenced to life and hit me,” O’Leary said.
The veteran lawyer said he had his back turned to Herron when the convicted inmate struck a blow out of the blue.
“I’ve got a big lump on the back of my head,” O’Leary said.
The blow came despite Herron’s decision to defend himself during the trial, leaving O’Leary to serve as a regional defense counsel, sitting by and giving procedural advice when Herron asked for it.
“My function was to answer any questions he had,” said O’Leary.
The lawyer said Herron gave no indication he was angry at him.
They had even spent some time together huddled in a cell behind the courtroom before the sentencing.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone decided Herron should spend the rest of his days behind bars.
It’s not clear what more the legal system could do to punish Herron, but he will face consequences for hitting his lawyer.
“He was charged with a felony for battery on his attorney it the courtroom,” said Pinellas Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tom Nestor.
O’Leary said he doesn’t blame any of the courtroom security officers in the attack.
“I’ve been working with those guys for 40 years,” O’Leary said. “I’ve got no problem with them.”
The attorney said his wife is helping him keep ice packs on the back of his head to hold down the swelling and another attorney will have to represent Herron on the battery charge because of the conflict of interest.