VIDEO: Brevard judge on leave after public defender fight

By Greg Pallone , Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 03, 2014, 6:06 PM EDT
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Chaos in a Brevard County courtroom -- between a judge and a public defender. Things got so heated it came to blows.

The public defender's office likens what happened to an episode of Jerry Springer.

Judge Murphy: "If I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now. "Stop 'beeping' me off, I'll take care of it. I don't need your help."

Weinstock: "I am a public defender and I have a right to be here and stand here and represent...

The tension was building in Judge John Murphy's courtroom between him and public defender Andrew Weinstock.

Judge Murphy: "I said sit down! If you want to fight let's go out back and *expletive.*"

And with those words, both men headed to the hallway. That's when a ruckus could be heard.

"According to the lawyer, as soon as the lawyer entered the hallway behind the courtroom, the judge grabbed him by the collar and began punching him in his head," said Blaise Trettis, 18th Judicial Circuit Public Defender.

Trettis said Weinstock never threw any punches of his own and was just trying to defend himself.

Courtroom deputies broke up the fight, which was out of camera view.

 "The judge, I think, just couldn't take anymore," said Beverly Allgood, who was seated in the court for a case.

 She said the public defender was rude to the judge.

 "The judge took care of him, I suppose, because he never came back out," she said.

Seconds after the ruckus was over, the crowd in the courtroom broke into applause.

"The only thing I can think of is that it's the best entertainment they've seen since the end of the Jerry Springer show," said Trettis.

We're told Weinstock wasn't seriously hurt, doesn't want to pursue criminal charges and is currently taking a couple days off. But he has been reassigned and will not be in the same courtroom as Judge Murphy again.

Trettis expects a full investigation from the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission which oversees judges.

Murphy will be taking a leave of absence and will be undergoing anger management classes.

Chief Judge John M. Harris issued this statement Tuesday:

"As Chief Judge, I want to assure the public that yesterday’s incident involving a county court judge and an assistant public defender is not something that will ever be tolerated in the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit. This isolated event in no way reflects the typical manner that courtrooms in Brevard and Seminole Counties are managed by the hardworking and conscientious judges in this circuit. People come to court seeking justice and a peaceful resolution to their conflicts and they have the right to expect a much higher standard of behavior from our judges than was exhibited in court yesterday.

"All of our judges, including Judge Murphy, fully understand this and to that end, and with the fullest cooperation from Judge Murphy, I have temporarily reassigned all of his pending cases to other judges. Moreover, Judge Murphy has agreed to seek anger management counseling and treatment during a temporary leave of absence.

"As Chief Judge, I will continue to work with all of our judges to ensure that we meet our responsibilities to the public in a manner that is worthy of the trust and confidence placed in us. At this time, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on the incident, the leave of absence, or any future reassignment of cases."