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Santa Ana man gets two years in prison for attacking his attorney

3/25/2011, 2:56 p.m.

SANTA ANA, Calif.--A Santa Ana man was handed a two-year prison term today upon admitting that he punched a deputy public defender who was representing him on a marijuana citation.

Gaylord Tootsie Daney pleaded guilty to one felony count each of assault on a government official, aggravated assault and battery with serious bodily injury, according to prosecutors. He also admitted sentencing enhancements for personally inflicting great bodily injury.

Daney would have faced up to six years behind bars had he gone to trial in the assault case and been convicted, according to Orange County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder.

Had he not attacked his attorney, the maximum he could have faced was a $100 fine, and no jail time, for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, according to prosecutors.

Westminster police arrested Daney for marijuana possession on Dec. 31, 2009. At his arraignment on Feb. 24, 2010, at the West Justice Center, a public defender was appointed to represent him at no charge, Schroeder said.

Daney was told to return to court March 12 of last year for a hearing before his jury trial, which was scheduled for later that month, Schroeder said.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael J. Cassidy rejected Daney's request to fire his attorney, identified in court records as Deputy Public Defender Donna Lineberry, and ordered him back to court the next day.

About 9 a.m. on March 24 of last year, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound defendant grew so angry while discussing his case with his attorney that he punched her in the face, smashing her glasses with his fist, Schroeder said. The attorney's head slammed against the wall and she slumped to the floor, suffering cuts and bruises to her face, Schroeder said.

Sheriff's deputies ran to arrest Daney as his attorney shouted for help, she said.

The Public Defender's Office declared a conflict, so attorney David Scarsone was appointed to represent Daney at little or no cost. A message left with Scarsone after business hours was not immediately returned.