Judge Who Threatened to Fight Lawyer Removed From Bench

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Brevard judge who threatened lawyer removed from bench.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A judge who was captured on video berating and threatening to fight an assistant public defender was ordered removed from the bench Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court.

The decision marks the latest in a series of cases in which Chief Judge Jorge Labarga and his colleagues said the recommended punishment by the Judicial Qualifications Commission was too lenient. In a strongly-worded opinion, justices said Brevard Circuit Judge John Murphy’s behavior was so appalling that it became a “national spectacle” and an “embarrassment” to Florida.

The judge at one point said, “If you want to fight, let’s go out back.” The two men left the courtroom and Murphy was accused of hitting the man. Because of Judge Murphy’s appalling behavior, we conclude that there is clear and convincing evidence that Judge Murphy engaged in “conduct unbecoming a member of the judiciary demonstrating a present unfitness to hold office.” The JQC had recommended a formal reprimand, 120-day suspension, $50,000 fine, mental health therapy and additional course work. The justices rejected a judicial review commission’s recommendation that Murphy only be suspended for four months and fined $50,000, saying the judge’s actions eroded public faith in the courts.

After Weinstock responded that he had the right to be there and was representing his client, Murphy again snapped back at him, saying “I said sit down. Department of Veterans Affairs finding of a 30 percent disability based upon post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from combat service in Afghanistan. The judges of the Eighteenth Circuit are committed to the timely and efficient administration of justice and we will work diligently to cover Judge Murphy’s docket until the judicial nomination process is complete and a new judge has been appointed. The Army veteran had served in Afghanistan and established Brevard County’s Veterans Treatment Court, which was geared toward veterans arrested on misdemeanors or traffic offenses who may need treatment for behavior problems, said Chief Judge John Galluzzo, said in a statement.

Murphy, a veteran, had undergone anger management counseling, learning that his military experiences were a contributing factor to his outburst, suggesting a post-traumatic stress disorder. But investigators had pointed out that the judge handled seven cases after Weinstock fled the courtroom, meaning several defendants didn’t have a lawyer present with them in the courtroom. “Several witnesses testified that Mr.

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