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Brevard public defender quits job after judge's 'beat your ass' threat, brawl

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - A Brevard County public defender who claims a judge punched him during an argument last month has quit his job.

Judge John Murphy is accused of punching attorney Andrew Weinstock after the two had words during court in which Murphy allegedly pressured Weinstock to get his client to waive his right to a speedy trial.

"You know, if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now," Murphy told Weinstock. "Stop pissing me off. Just sit down."

"You know I'm the public defender. I have a right to be here and I have a right to stand and represent my client," Weinstock said.

The judge allegedly asked Weinstock to come to the back hallway, an area where there are no cameras, which is where the fight broke out.

"If you want to fight, let's go out back and I'll just beat your ass," Murphy told Weinstock before the two headed out of the courtroom.

While Murphy and Weinstock could not be seen, the courtroom camera captured audio of the scuffle and several loud thuds that accompanied it.  

Eighteenth Circuit Public Defender Blaise Trettis told Channel 9 Weinstock's resignation was a shock.

"I have no problem accepting the resignation," said Trettis. "I didn't try to convince the attorney to stay. I wasn't expecting it."

In Weinstock's resignation email, he explained he quit because he doesn't agree with his boss' support of Murphy returning to the bench.

Trettis said he called Weinstock to ask if he was sure about quitting, because he would not have a job waiting should he decide to change his mind.

"He would not be extended a job offer," said Trettis.

Ultimately, Murphy's return to the bench might be short-lived, as Trettis confirmed investigators with the Judicial Qualifications Commission have been interviewing witnesses to the fight.

"The judge is really going to have a tough road before the Judicial Qualifications Commission," said Trettis.

No charges were filed against Murphy.