About 18 months ago, Brevard County, Florida, Judge John C. Murphy decided it was a great idea to verbally threaten a public defender and then double down and helpfully offer to “beat his *ss.” Better still, it is all on video.
In case you didn’t feel like sitting through a grainy video, here’s what happened as per the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC)
The video showed Judge Murphy’s verbal altercation with assistant public defender Andrew Weinstock after Mr. Weinstock refused to waive speedy trial for his client. Judge Murphy stated, “You know if I had a rock, I would throw it at your [sic] right now. Stop pissing me off. Just sit down.” When Weinstock refused to sit down, asserting his right to stand and represent his clients, Judge Murphy responded, shouting: “I said sit down. If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass.” The two men left the courtroom and met in the hall. Although there is no video of the events that occurred in the hallway, the courtroom audio captured Judge Murphy remarking, “Alright you, you want to fuck with me?” and sounds of a scuffle.
All of that is objectively very bad! Perhaps more concerning, though, is that when Murphy returned to the bench after this incident, he then resumed his docket and made the remaining eight defendants appear without counsel.
Florida’s JQC recommended that Murphy receive a public reprimand, a 120-day suspension, a fine of $50,000 plus costs, and continued participation in a mental health therapy program. They also told him he had to attend judicial education courses at the Florida Judicial College. The Florida Supreme Court overruled that, however, and removed him from office forever, which seems…about exactly right, actually.
Featured image: “Angry judge comics character. Single illustration” from Shutterstock.