BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — 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.
While Murphy and Weinstock could not be seen, the courtroom camera captured audio of the scuffle and several loud thuds that accompanied it.
Those inside the courtroom sat uncomfortably and then clapped when the altercation sounded as if it ended.
Weinstock’s supervisor told Channel 9 Weinstock thought they would just talk out the problem, but he said there were no words exchanged, just blows thrown by Murphy.
“The attorney said that immediately upon entering the hallway he was grabbed by the collar and began to be struck,” said Blaise Trettis, public defender of the 18th Judicial Court. “There was no discussion, no talk, not even time for anything. Just as soon as they’re in the hallway, the attorney was grabbed.”
Two deputies broke up the fight, and the attorney was immediately reassigned to another area so he and the judge would not have to interact with each other.
After the confrontation, Murphy went back into court and finished ruling over first appearances.
“I will catch my breath eventually,” Murphy said. “Man, I’m an old man.”
Murphy wasn’t arrested, and it doesn’t appear charges will be filed. However, the public defender’s office said the incident will be reported to the Florida Bar.