Argument between Brevard County judge and public defender spurs alleged physical scuffle.
This is something you probably don’t see every day.
A Florida judge and a public defender allegedly got into a scuffle Monday, as a courtroom full of people witnessed the exchange of words that preceded the bizarre incident.
Court deputies had to break up a physical fight between a Brevard County judge and a public defender after an argument during a hearing on Monday.
Judge John Murphy is accused of punching veteran public defender Andrew Weinstock after the two had words during court in which Murphy allegedly pressured Weinstock to get his client to waive his right to a speedy trial.
“You know, if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now,” Murphy tells Weinstock. “Stop pissing me off. Just sit down.”
“You know I’m the public defender. I have a right to be here and I have a right to stand and represent my client,” Weinstock said in the video.
The judge allegedly asked Weinstock to come to the back hallway, an area where there are no cameras, which is where the fight broke out.
“If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass,” Murphy tells Weinstock before the two head out of the courtroom.
From there, you can hear a scuffle break out in the hallway. A sheriff’s deputy reportedly intervened and stopped the fight. Moments later, those sitting in the courtroom can be seen and heard clapping for some reason as the judge is heard re-entering the courtroom. The public defender does not appear to return to the courtroom.
After taking his seat, the judge said, “I will catch my breath eventually…Man, I’m an old man.”
The full video, which provides fuller context than the shorter clip above, is available at Florida Today. The specific exchange there begins at about the 2:30 mark in the video.
The public defender’s office said Weinstock had been grabbed and struck once both men were in the hallway, according to WFTV, though neither Weinstock nor the judge had yet offered a public statement themselves at the time of this writing. (NOTE: see update below)
By Tuesday morning, Judge Murphy was absent from the bench and another judge had taken over his scheduled proceedings, reported Florida Today.
The day after a Brevard County judge allegedly fought with a public defender, the hall outside his normal courtroom was abuzz with chatter about a video that shows part of the incident.
Some said they saw it on Good Morning America. Others watched the video on their smartphones while awaiting their own court hearings.
Outside the courthouse, news trucks parked and television reporters did live takes on the front lawn.
Inside courtroom 3C, though, Judge John C Murphy was absent from the bench. Administrative Judge Michelle Baker took his seat and is handling Murphy’s scheduled court proceedings today.
No charges had been filed, but a sheriff’s spokeswoman told Florida Today that an investigation into the incident was still ongoing Tuesday morning.
UPDATE: Just as this post was prepared for publication, Florida Today posted the following update:
Brevard County Judge John Murphy will take a leave of absence and seek anger management counseling following a brawl in his Viera courtroom Monday morning, officials said today.
Chief Judge John M. Harris issued a written statement this afternoon related to an incident and alleged fight that occurred between the judge and assistant public defender Andrew Weinstock.
Harris’ statement says Murphy’s cases have been reassigned to other judges.
“Moreover, Judge Murphy has agreed to seek anger management counseling and treatment during a temporary leave of absence,” the statement says.
[Featured image: Florida Today video]DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.