‘I’ll Beat Your Ass!’ – Florida Judge John C. Murphy Removed from Bench for Beating Attorney

A little over a year ago, Brevard County, Florida, Judge John C. Murphy, threatened to beat a public defender’s ass, in the middle of court.

“If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass,” the Judge tells Public Defender Andrew Weinstock before the two head out of the courtroom.

Murphy’s courtroom conflict erupted last June during an argument with a public defender, Andrew Weinstock, over a client’s right to a speedy trial.

Once it escalated, Murphy seemed ready to strike down the attorney.

“You know if I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now,” Murphy said.

“Stop pissing me off… If you want to fight, let’s go out back, and I’ll beat your ass.”

As soon as they walked out of the courtroom into the hallway the melee began.

While Murphy and Weinstock could not be seen, the courtroom camera captured audio of the scuffle and several loud thuds that accompanied it.

That was enough for the Florida Supreme Court to issue the order below:

This matter is before the Court for review of the recommendation of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission that Judge John C. Murphy be disciplined as follows: a public reprimand, suspension without pay for 120 days, a fine of $50,000 plus costs, continued participation in a mental health therapy program until successfully discharged, and completion of Phase I of the Judicial Education Courses in the Florida Judicial College New Judges Program at his own expense and without receiving continuing judicial education credit. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 12, Fla. Const. Pursuant to our constitutional authority, we reject the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s recommendation and instead remove Judge Murphy from office for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Rules of Professional Conduct by his misconduct on June 2, 2014.

Judge Murphy’s misconduct includes the following: (1) threatening to commit violence against an assistant public defender; (2) engaging in a physical altercation with counsel; and (3) resuming his docket while defendants were without counsel. This egregious conduct demonstrates his present unfitness to remain in office. 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.