By Tracy Manzer
Price Benowitz Senior Editor of Content
Just when you thought Florida couldn’t get any crazier, news agencies in Brevard County are reporting that court deputies had to break up a fight between a judge and a veteran assistant public defender.
According to WFTV 9, the Hon. John Murphy repeatedly slugged assistant public defender Andrew Weinstock after the pair argued heatedly during a court hearing in which Weinstock was pushing to waive his client’s right to a speedy trial.
The news station quotes the judge as saying, “You know, if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now … Stop pissing me off. Just sit down.”
According to the report, the public defender responded with, “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.”
The judge then allegedly challenged Weinstock to go into the back hallway, which is an area of the courthouse that is not viewed by security surveillance systems, and that is where the argument escalated to physical force.
“If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass,” the judge is quoted as saying before the two men walked out of the courtroom into the back hallway. Though there are no cameras in the hallway, courtroom cameras picked up the sounds of the fight, including what was described as several loud thuds. The courtroom cameras also recorded the reactions of everyone left in the courtroom as they sat uncomfortably, then applauded when the fight ended.
Blaise Trettis, Weinstock’s supervisor and the Public Defender of the 18th Judicial Court, reportedly told media members that Weinstock didn’t think there would be a fight, he simply figured that the two men would continue to talk or argue. There were, however, no words exchanged before Murphy allegedly grabbed Weinstock by the collar and threw several punches.
“There was no discussion, no talk, not even time for anything,” Trettis told reporters.
After the alleged attack, Murphy went back into the courtroom and finished with his rulings, but not before exclaiming, “I will catch my breath eventually … Man, I’m an old man.”
The judge was not arrested and, at the time that this blog was posted, no criminal charges were pending. Trettis, however, said that his office will report the incident to the Florida Bar.
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