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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A state Supreme Court justice walking toward City Hall was assaulted by a panhandler, who hit him in the face, his brother said. He was taken to a hospital and was treated for a possible concussion.

Justice Kevin Dougherty was assaulted Friday night as he walked in downtown Philadelphia, labor leader John Dougherty confirmed. He was fine, and the attack appeared to be random, his brother said.

Police said a man blocked the path of the judge and two other people, asked for money and then hit the judge.

An hour earlier, a subway passenger had reported being attacked by a man who had appeared to be talking to himself. Both victims identified James Paulk, who was arrested on a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority subway train north of the city center and faces simple assault and reckless endangering charges.

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Paulk’s mother, Delores Paulk, said he has been treated for years for schizophrenia and has been institutionalized repeatedly but refuses to take his medication after discharge because the drugs make him “like a zombie.”

“He’s not a bad person, he’s just mentally incapable of doing the right thing,” she said, adding that he had to be barred from the family home last fall after he set fires there. “He’s out on the street, and they try to help him, and he keeps refusing the help.”

She said she understood that the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania was trying to get his case resolved so further mental health treatment can be mandated.

SEPTA police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III told The Philadelphia Inquirer the attacks appeared to be part of a “very strange flurry of mental health-related incidents.”


This story has been corrected to show the assault on the judge occurred on the street, not on the subway train.