[2nd Update: A second post, highlighting further ethical violations by the judge.]
An outrageous video out of Brevard County, Florida (why is it always Florida?), in which a judge is seen verbally abusing a public defender who is ready for trial and refuses to waive his client’s right to a speedy trial, and then, according to the audio and witnesses, assaults the public defender in the hallway.
Here’s the mind-boggling video:
Here is the dialogue:
“If I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now,” Murphy said. “Stop pissing me off. Just sit down. I’ll take care of it. I don’t need your help. Sit down.”
“I’m the public defender, I have the right to be here and I have a right to stand and represent my clients,” Weinstock said.
“Sit down,” Murphy said. “If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass.”
“Let’s go right now,” Weinstock said.
That’s completely reprehensible behavior from a judge. Granted, Weinstock probably shouldn’t have taken him up on his offer, but sometimes you need to stand up for yourself.
The incident continues, because a man wearing robes who doesn’t know how to behave in court, certainly has no qualms about escalating when in the hidden recesses of his power palace:
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.”
The judge wasn’t arrested and wasn’t immediately reported for disciplinary action. Both of those are unacceptable. The ethics committee shouldn’t need anyone to report this to them to start an investigation. And the state’s attorney’s office needs to review the video and conduct interviews immediately to determine if criminal charges should be filed. This isn’t just an assault on an individual, this is an assault on the system itself.
Judges, of all people, are supposed to understand and believe in our judicial system, what with them being the guardians of justice and whatnot. They should have a firmer grasp on the roles each party has to play in the adversarial system. His behavior here shows that he thinks there are laws for everyone except him.
This person doesn’t deserve to wear the robes and have the power to decide the fates of countless others before him, who are, in reality, just as disempowered as the public defender.
Do you believe, for one second, that if the public defender had put his hands on the judge, that he wouldn’t have been tased, handcuffed and put in lockup by the marshals before you could dial 911?
Update: Looks like Judge Kopf has posted on this and in his post he lays the blame on the public defender for setting up the bait and the judge for taking it. I think his perspective might cloud his judgment here a bit, unless you consider refusing to roll over on your clients’ speedy trial rights a “bait”, in which case, I guess it makes it obvious that some view this as no more than a game.