A Brevard County, Fla. judge who allegedly assaulted a public defender outside of his courtroom on the morning of June 2, is going to be taking a leave of absence from the bench and will also be attending anger management counseling, according to a statement from the Eighteenth Judicial Court in Florida. In that statement released yesterday, Chief Judge John Harris wrote in part, “I want to assure the public that yesterday’s incident involving a county court judge and an assistant public defender is not something that will ever be tolerated in the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit.”
Harris went on to say that Judge John C. Murphy, the man who can be seen and heard arguing with the public defender on court video before allegedly taking the fight outside and physically assaulting the public defender off camera, has had all of his court cases temporarily reassigned to other judges. Andrew Weinstock, the attorney allegedly assaulted by the judge, is not expected to press criminal charges against Murphy.
According to USA Today, tempers began to flare between the two in court on Monday morning when the judge asked Weinstock how he wanted to proceed about waiving a client’s right to a speedy trial. The initial exchange caught on videotape between the two went like this:
"You want to set it for docket sounding, set it for docket sounding. I'm not waiving in any case. This is an emergency created by the state," the attorney says.
Murphy responds: "You know if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now. Stop pissing me off. Just sit down. I'll take care of it. I don't need your help. Sit down."
"You know what? I'm the public defender I have a right to be here and I have a right to stand and represent my clients."
"I said sit down. If you want to fight lets go out back and I'll just beat your ass."
Unfortunately, as Weinstock and the judge exited the courtroom, we lost our video picture of the two. But you can still hear some commotion on the audio portion of the video. That commotion is reportedly Murphy grabbing the attorney in the hallway and punching him in the head. Another public defender, Blaise Trettis, said that the two men went down a hallway restricted for lawyers and judges.
On the video, while they are off camera, one of the men says: "I'm not kidding. You wanna [expletive] with me?"
According to Trettis, as soon as Weinstock got into the hallway, “the judge grabbed him by the collar and began punching him in the head." Trettis got into the middle of the two to try and break up the brawl, and was eventually successful with assistance from courtroom bailiffs. After the scuffle, the judge surprisingly returned to the courtroom and took his seat.
"I will catch my breath eventually," he says. Those gathered in the courtroom applaud.
Weinstock did not return to the courtroom after his brawl with the judge and has decided to take the next few days off. Although the public defender isn’t pressing charges, Trettis said that he fully expects the Florida Supreme Court to take some sort of action against Murphy, according to Reuters.