Family Law

Stabbed by Client's Ex-Husband, Lawyer, 54, Has 'Horrible Injuries' But Is Recovering


A Minnesota attorney suffered “horrible injuries” but is expected to survive being stabbed a dozen times in her Fridley office a week ago, according to Anoka County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Paul Sommer.

Within an hour or so, a client’s ex-husband confessed to the attack on Terri Melcher that took place a little after 5 p.m. last Friday. Sheikh Nyane, 32, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail on two counts of attempted murder and two counts of assault, WCCO reports. He was reportedly upset over having recently lost custody of his child.

“He just walked into the office, found her and attacked her with a knife,” Sommer told the station. The knife was broken in the attack.

The 54-year-old lawyer was treated for a head injury and stab wounds to her face, throat and chest, reports the Pioneer Press.

A criminal complaint says Melcher told investigators her attacker at one point held her down as he cut her throat, the article states.

“We’re looking at this as a brazen assault,” Sommer tells the newspaper. “For someone to seek out an officer of the court over a decision is extremely rare.”

It isn’t unheard of, however. Attorney Rick Hendrickson survived being shot by his client’s cousin outside a courtroom in Minneapolis in 2003. His client didn’t.

A Minnesota Public Radio article published shortly after the attack on Hendrickson and his client provides additional details. Their assailant, Susan Rae Berkovitz, allegedly sought restraining orders against them while plotting to murder them in the courthouse because of an “obsessive resentment” related to an inheritance dispute.

She reportedly shot Hendrickson in the neck at close range as he and a security guard waited for his client to emerge from a women’s restroom, then went into the restroom and apparently fired several more shots. Her cousin, Shelley Joseph-Kordell, survived long enough to identify Berkovitz as her attacker before dying about two hours later.

Hendrickson expressed sadness over the attack on Melcher. He tells the Pioneer Press the bullet fragment lodged in his neck is a constant reminder of his own experience, but he is happy to be alive.

Berkovitz is serving a life prison term for murder and attempted murder.

A benefit fund has been established for Melcher, Fox 9 News reports.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Opposing Counsel’s Warning Comes Too Late; Lawyer, 54, Is Stabbed 12 Times in Her Office”

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