Public defender reassigned after judge's 'beat your ass' threat

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —

A Brevard County judge and the public defender he's accused of punching were not at work Tuesday following a heated argument that allegedly turned violent on Monday.

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 in the video.

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 head 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.  

Channel 9 learned Weinstock was reassigned, and Murphy will not hear any more of his cases.

Weinstock's supervisor told Channel 9 Weinstock thought they would just talk out the problem, but public defender Blaise Trettis said there were no words exchanged, just blows thrown by Murphy.

"The attorney said that immediately upon entering the hallway he was grabbed by the collar and began to be struck," Trettis told Channel 9 on Monday. "There was no discussion, no talk, not even time for anything. Just as soon as they're in the hallway, the attorney was grabbed."

Trettis defended his assistant public defender's choice to stand up for his client and despite the scuffle, he called Murphy a good judge and said the incident uncharacteristic.

"The attorney is an aggressive attorney who exerts his clients' rights, but no, there hasn't been any history of antagonism," said Trettis.

Two deputies broke up the fight and after the confrontation, Murphy went back into court and finished ruling over first appearances.

"I will catch my breath eventually," Murphy said. "Man, I'm an old man."

Murphy wasn't arrested, and it doesn't appear charges will be filed. However, the public defender's office said the incident will be reported to the Florida Bar.