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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Lawyer Elana Silberman, Court officer smashed my head into the wall

A seething court officer violently flung a Legal Aid lawyer against a wall inside the Bronx Criminal courthouse, smashing her head and giving her a concussion, the injured attorney told the Daily News.

Five-foot-tall Elana Silberman and witnesses said court officer Babul Miah went ballistic on her as she talked to another lawyer in the courtroom on March 14.

“What happened was unbelievable,” Silberman told the Daily News. “This has never happened to me before.”

Miah could not be reached, but a court spokesman said the “unfortunate incident” was being investigated.

“We are trying to determine exactly what transpired,” said David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration.

The Bronx County Bar Association said it will conduct its own independent probe as well.

Silberman, 50, said she had approached the bench inside the courtroom and started talking to a prosecutor on the other side of the rail during a hearing. As the two discussed a separate case, Miah rushed up to the defense lawyer and told her she had to pipe down and take a seat — even as other attorneys conferenced close by, three witnesses told the Daily News.

“For reasons I cannot explain, this officer started to get belligerent with Elana,” said one lawyer, who, like others interviewed, wished to not be named for fear of angering court employees.

“She wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

Nonetheless, Miah screamed at Silberman and demanded she leave the courtroom, witnesses said.

Miah, who has been a court officer for two years, then trailed after her when she started to leave.

“He was shouting at her from literally a foot behind,” said another person present in the cramped and packed courtroom. “He was trying to embarrass her.”

Miah’s fury wasn’t limited to words, Silberman said. He then violently shoved her from behind as she exited the courtroom, she said.

The push sent the diminutive defender flying across a vestibule where she struck her head against a wall, she said.

Next, Silberman, who has represented low-income clients for the Legal Aid Society in the Bronx since 1989, was cuffed and kept in custody for about 90 minutes.

She was eventually released without being charged.

Later, Silberman went to the emergency room where doctors said she had suffered a concussion.

She has not been back to work since.

“We are extremely concerned about our lawyer and how she was treated,” said Steven Banks, the Legal Aid Society’s attorney-in-chief.

“The condition and safety of our entire staff is of great concern to us.”

Miah has continued working at the courthouse pending the outcome of the OCA’s investigation.

Colleagues heaped praise on their hotheaded coworker.

“He’s a stand-up guy,” one Bronx court officer told the Daily News. “And he’s kind of a hero around here now.”

Some are calling for Miah’s head.

But not Silberman.

“I feel bad for this guy because he really lost it,” she said. “Everybody has a low point in their life. Hopefully, he'll grow from it.”

By Shane Dixon Kavanaugh / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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