Flori-duh Justice – “I’ll beat your ass!”


Judge John Murphy of Brevard County, Florida, challenged veteran public defender Andrew Weinstock to a fight on Monday.  In court.  On camera. The disagreement?  Weinstock refused to waive his client’s right to trial. “Judge” Murphy allegedly punched Mr. Weinstock in the head, but most of the action took place off screen although you can clearly hear the sounds of a fight. The video was reported by WFTV.

According to Blaise Trettis, public defender of the 18th Judicial Court, “The attorney said that immediately upon entering the hallway he was grabbed by the collar and began to be struck. There was no discussion, no talk, not even time for anything. Just as soon as they’re in the hallway, the attorney was grabbed.”

Two deputies broke up the fight. Murphy wasn’t arrested. It doesn’t appear charges will be filed. The public defender’s office did say the incident will be reported to the Florida Bar and that Weinstock was immediately reassigned to another area so he and the judge would not have to interact with each other.

Here’s my problem with this: Murphy should have been arrested on the spot.  He should have been charged. And although it is a possible outcome, it is not a likely outcome that he should be disbarred and removed from the bench.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200. This kind of behavior is unacceptable in any workplace, but in a court of law – instigated by the alleged judge no less – this kind of behavior is why I think public servants in positions of trust should have the full penalty of law used against them when they abuse their office.  There is no argument to be made that this wasn’t an abuse of office and the public trust. He not only physically attacked an officer of the court, he did so because the attorney was refusing to waive a client’s Constitutional rights.

John Murphy isn’t fit to be a judge, let alone a member of the bar.

What do you think?

About Gene Howington

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9 Responses to Flori-duh Justice – “I’ll beat your ass!”

  1. Even for a judge in Florida, this is beyond the pale.

  2. Always check YouTube. It is only a matter of time before somebody uploads it.

  3. Thanks, Chuck. I’ll add that to the article body.

  4. I’ve never heard of this judge although I practice occasionally in Brevard County. I assume his actions will result in a complaint with the Judicial Qualifications Committee for investigation. The public defender’s actions should also result in a formal bar investigation. In my view, the actions of both attorney and judge in this instance should be subject to sanctions.

  5. Blouise says:

    Murphy worked at his father’s law firm, Betten, Murphy & Weiss, Attorneys, P.A., from 1983 until he was elected to the county court in late 2006. He served his first elected term then ran unopposed in 2012. Murphy is a retired, decorated U.S. Army Reserve colonel who was assigned to Special Forces in Afghanistan and several other countries, according to a local chapter of the Reserve Officers Association, a professional group that represents commissioned and warrant officers of the uniformed services. Murphy has applied for a spot on a state appeals court,and on that application he described himself as open-minded, courteous, tactful and firm, but said patience doesn’t come naturally. “Patience was the toughest for me. I work very hard to ensure that I do not become impatient.”

    He’s on leave of absence and has agreed to take anger management classes.

    I can’t find much on Weinstock except that he earned his law degree at John Marshall and has been practicing in Florida since 1999 and is described as an experienced, veteran public defender.

    Adversarial system run amuck.

    Here is what I don’t understand. The Judge threatened the public defender with physical violence (the rock throwing comment) which is assault, right? Then the judge committed battery when he followed through on the assault with battery (the punch to the public defender’s head). Why does the public defender have to press charges? Why aren’t the charges automatic from the D A’s office or police? Both would be misdemeanors with fines and no real jail/prison time.

    Ironic that the defendant was up on 2 assault charges.

  6. Mike A.,

    Why do you think the attorney should face sanction? He wasn’t confrontational. He simply said he wasn’t going to waive trial. To my eye, that’s just doing the job.

  7. Gene,
    What the PD did wrong was to leave the podium. He appeared to lead the way to the exit. I used to teach assertiveness classes for lawyers. Stay calm and use the broken record method while the judge or counsel opposite goes off the rails. “I understand, your honor. I am not waiving.” As many times as it takes. Always lead replies with, “I understand.”

    I was in the middle of a deposition once when one of the lawyers got mad at the other and tried to get him to go outside to the parking lot. It was a bit like watching a psych lab experiment unfold four feet from me.

  8. Blouise says:


    I believe the Judge was the first to exit the room and the PD followed. PD claimed he was going to talk to the Judge but that the Judge grabbed him and hit him. Of course since no one is going to go in front of a jury or even be sworn, the truth will not be put down in any kind of record. Unless one of the deputies who pulled the Judge off the PD saw something different, it’s going to stand as is.

    I wonder what kind of trial the Defendant will get or if another Judge will just throw a rock at him too.

    I thought Judges were supposed to maintain order in their courtrooms. If the defendant’s lawyer refuses to waive his client’s right to a speedy trial then the Judge should be able to do something other than throwing rocks or punches.

    Since the PD was unable to return to the courtroom, having been punched in the head by the Judge, I wonder what kind of case the Defendant now has … after all, he was denied competent legal representation and the right to a speedy trial by the Judge who decided to use the man’s lawyer as a punching bag.

  9. Chuck,

    Perhaps as a matter of tactics, but what I was referring to was bar sanction. As framed by Blouise, that too is my understanding of the the sequence of events. I can see nothing the attorney did nothing wrong in regards to his client or as a matter of decorum. Murphy on the other hand? Not so much.

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