Judge John C. Murphy has been removed from his position in Brevard County, Florida after the Florida Supreme Court handed down a ruling and called the “fighting judge’s” conduct a “a national embarrassment” and “egregious,” according to the Hamilton Spectator.
In June 2014, Judge John Murphy and public defender Andrew Weinstock reached an impasse in court, where each demanded to know what the other wanted to do next. A video of the exchange was widely covered in the press and shared on social media, according to Canada Journal.
In the viral video, Murphy can be heard challenging Weinstock to a fight over his apparent refusal to relinquish his client’s right to an expedient trial. The expletive-containing, NSFW video of the exchange is available on YouTube.
“If you want to fight, let’s go out back,” Judge John Murphy can be heard challenging the public defender.
Upon being challenged, Weinstock stated “Let’s go right now,” and calmly walked out of the courtroom, and out of the shot of available footage, with Judge Murphy reportedly following him. Murphy can be heard in an expletive-filled rant in the hallway, accompanied by banging and thudding noises.
A deputy was reported to have stopped the altercation, in which it was reported that Weinstock claimed that Murphy punched him in the face twice, while Murphy claimed that Weinstock threw the first punch, landing a jab in the judge’s chest. Weinstock did not return to the courtroom.
“The attorney said that immediately upon entering the hallway he was grabbed by the collar and began to be struck,” Blaise Trettis, a public defender was quoted in 2014 with regard to his colleague. “There was no discussion, no talk, not even time for anything. Just as soon as they’re in the hallway, the attorney was grabbed.”
However, when Judge John Murphy returned, he received a round of applause from those gathered, apparently impressed with his judicial bravado. The judge took a long pause before returning to business in the court, while the video continues to roll for about five minutes.
The Florida Supreme Court did not hesitate to pull the plug on Judge Murphy’s career.
“This egregious conduct demonstrates his present unfitness to remain in office,” the thoroughly unimpressed statement from the Florida Supreme Court read. “Furthermore, where a judge’s actions erode public faith in the courts, removal is appropriate. Judge Murphy’s grievous misconduct became a national spectacle and an embarrassment to Florida’s judicial system. We conclude that, through his misconduct, Judge Murphy surrendered his privilege to serve in our court system.”
A physician who examined Murphy was reported to claim that the judge’s father’s recent death, the heavy workload, and responsibility of serving as a judge contributed to his decision to punch out his frustrations. The doctor also expressed an opinion that Judge John Muphy is a victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from his years of service in the U.S. military.
Weinstock quit his position, in protest, after Murphy was permitted to return to the bench, according to the ABA Journal. Andrew Weinstock’s LinkedIn profile lists the attorney as currently being employed with the law firm Duplass, Zwain, Bourgeois, Pfister & Weinstock. By July 2014, Muphy had reportedly offered an apology, agreed to attend anger management therapy, and receive other unspecified intervention, but this was not enough to convince the Florida Supreme Court.
The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission had recommended a suspension of 120 days in length, along with a fine of $50,000. The Florida Supreme Court has taken a tough stance with the outright firing of Judge John Murphy. There is no word on whether he will be subject to the $50,000 fine or any other penalties.
[AP Photo/Florida Today,Tim Shortt, Pool]