Judicial thuggery: FL judge assaults public defender (Update)

[2nd Update: A second post, highlighting further ethical violations by the judge.]

[Update below]

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?

When judges like these start to believe in the myths about their own greatness and power, you get judicial abuses like these that aren’t just metaphorical.

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.

18 thoughts on “Judicial thuggery: FL judge assaults public defender (Update)

  1. Pauline

    Apparently, there was applause when the judge returned, too. That, along with the fact that no charges are being pressed on either side, makes for an even more appalling situation.

    Reply
  2. John Kindley

    I’m pretty sure the argument wasn’t because the PD wasn’t ready for trial but because he was insisting on his client’s right to a speedy trial. Sounds like he was arguing, before the judge cut him off, against a continuance on the grounds that the State had created the “emergency.”

    Reply
  3. nidefatt

    Man, and I thought being held in contempt and handcuffed for a docket or two was badass. I guess it’s all relative. You deal with the tyrant you’ve got.

    Reply
  4. Al Rossi

    “If I had a rock I would throw it at you right now???!!!” LOL. How old is this guy ? Six? What a bizarre choice of words!

    Reply
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  6. RGK

    Dear Defender,

    I have elaborated on my posts. But, I have not be clear and that is my fault. There is no excuse for the judge’s behavior. I apologize for my lack of clarity.

    All the best.

    RGK

    Reply
    1. Gideon Post author

      Dear Judge Your Honor, thanks for the reply. I’m not sure I understand. But I will write a post about it nonetheless.

      Reply
  7. andrews

    [why always in Florida]

    People here are more surprised that it is in Brevard rather than, say, Broward or Dade.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Fighting John Murphy: It gets worse | a public defender

  9. Jim

    JUDGE JOHN MURPHY NEEDS TO BE ARRESTED, CHARGED/INDICTED, CONVICTED AND IMPRISONED FOR A LONG LONG TIME FOR THIS ASSAULT AND BATTERY.

    This is very clearly an assault and battery–plain and simple.

    The proof is there, beyond a reasonable doubt.

    He took the public defender out to punch him so it can be done off cameras.

    This is a state and possibly a federal crime (color of law, civil rights).

    This criminal in robes needs to be arrested, jailed, convicted and imprisoned for a long long time and never ever allowed to practice again.

    The Public defender or his office must press charges vigorously and not ignore this or let it go.

    Reply
    1. Marienne Branch

      I agree & wonder why they haven’t. Oh, right, there I go again being delusional. There’s a high price to pay for asserting your rights when you’re right & the peer structure is wrong, wrong, wrong.

      Reply
  10. Chris Coyle

    The PD isn’t faultless. If he thinks he’s being strong armed into waiving a speedy trial and sticks to his guns, the only proper reply when the judge asks “What do you want to do?” is “We want a speedy trial.” “What do YOU want to do?” is never the right answer.

    Reply
    1. Marienne Branch

      It would take an angel or a saint to respond faultlessly in a situation that was obviously ongoing.

      Reply

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