This display in Judge John Murphy's Brevard County courtroom is not likely to endear public confidence based upon the courtroom demeanor he displayed when a public defender, Andrew Weinstock, appeared with his client for his initial appearance and appeared to anger the judge when he declined to waive his client's right to a speedy trial. It was all caught on the Florida courtroom's video camera. "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 responded. Judge Murphy shot back, "If you want to fight, let's go out back and I'll just beat your ass." Weinstock accept the judge's invitation and the two leave the courtroom, whereupon you can hear several loud thuds and what appears to be the voice of Judge Murphy yelling, "Do you want to f_ _ _ with me? Do you?
Judge Murphy returned to his courtroom without Weinstock to the applause of other defendants awaiting their court appearances. Apparently, sheriff's deputies broke up the altercation where Judge Murphy allegedly grabbed Weinstock by the collar and began striking him in the head. Weinstock's supervisor told a local TV station that Weinstock did not leave the courtroom to engage in a fight with the judge; rather, he believed the two were just going to discuss the matter outside the courtroom. Weinstock didn't press charges against Judge Murphy, but the public defender's office indicated that they planned to report the matter to the state bar authorities.
It's incredible that Judge Murphy wasn't arrested on the spot if he truly began punching Weinstock without provocation. He set a very poor example for the people who appear in his courtroom who are expected to remain calm and not allow their emotions to get the better of them when they don't like how things are going for them in court. Some of the people present believed Weinstock was being rude to Judge Murphy, but from what is captured on video, he was not out of line to resist the judge's insistence that his client waive his right to a speedy trial if that's what his client had instructed him to do. It was bad enough that the judge threatened to throw a rock at him, let alone take him outside and begin pounding his head with his fist. The man is clearly unfit to serve on the bench if he loses control of his temper that easily.
UPDATE: It looks like Judge Murphy will be taking a leave of absence from his job in order to seek anger management counseling.