A Florida judge completely lost his composure when addressing an assistant public defender during a hearing on Monday, June 2, 2014. Brevard County Judge John Murphy became increasingly upset with the public defender and ultimately challenged the attorney to step outside the courtroom to settle their differences.
Veteran Assistant Public Defender Andrew Weinstock was resisting pressure from the judge to waive his client’s speed trial rights. The judge responded by saying:
You know, if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now. Stop pissing me off. Just sit down.”
After Weinstock refused to comply with the judge’s order to sit down, the judge said:
If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass.”
The two then left the courtroom where, as was audible in the courtroom, there was a physical altercation. A deputy had to break up the fight which Weinstock later described as initiated by the judge the moment the two of them were in the hallway.
Weinstock has been assigned to a different courtroom and the judge has taken a temporary leave of absence, agreed to take anger management classes and get unspecified “treatment.”
In a statement released the following day, Chief Judge John Harris of Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit stated that Murphy’s outburst, “is not something that will ever be tolerated” in the circuit.
While neither the public defender nor the the judge reported any interest in filing charges, it is likely the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission will conduct an investigation into the judge’s behavior. If the judge is found to have assaulted the public defender this would likely constitute a violation of several judicial canons.
Florida Today covers the story.