ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida judge
accused of punching an assistant public defender after telling him "stop
pissing me off" is stepping down temporarily for anger management
Video footage shows Brevard County Judge John Murphy challenging
lawyer Andrew Weinstock to join him outside the courtroom to settle
a dispute over the scheduling of a trial date. "If you want to
fight, let's go out back and I'll just beat your ass," Murphy said.
Weinstock's boss, Public Defender Blaise Trettis, said the judge
became angry because Weinstock refused to waive his client's
constitutional right to a speedy trial. Under Florida law,
defendants have the right to a trial within 90 days for a
misdemeanor and 175 days for a felony.
"If I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now. Stop pissing me
off. Just sit down," Murphy can be heard telling Weinstock on the
video from the courthouse in Viera on Florida's east coast.
After Weinstock refused to sit or waive his client's rights, the
judge issued his challenge. Weinstock can be seen on the video
walking out of frame toward the courtroom's back door.
"According to the lawyer, the judge grabbed him about the collar as
soon as he walked into the hallway and began punching him in the
head, and the lawyer just tried to stop the blows. And the deputies
came into the hallway and pulled the judge off the lawyer," Trettis
After the altercation, Murphy returned to the bench and said he
needed a moment to catch his breath.