Florida Supreme Court removes judge from office, apparently in part for punching lawyer

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From a Florida Supreme Court opinion handed down today:

On June 2, 2014, [Brevard County Judge John C. Murphy] threatened an assistant public defender with violence in open court, challenged him to a physical fight, engaged in the threatened struggle in which the two men had to be physically separated by a deputy, and reassumed the bench to handle cases where the defendants were without the presence of their attorney. 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." Judge Murphy's conduct is fundamentally inconsistent with the responsibilities of judicial office and necessitates his removal.

A bit more detail, including that the "struggle" seems to have involved Judge Murphy punching the lawyer:

[Witness] Suzanne Carter was seated in the back of the courtroom during the incident. When Judge Murphy and Mr. Weinstock entered the hallway, Ms. Carter saw Judge Murphy grab Mr. Weinstock's collar with his left hand and raise his right arm as if he were going to punch Mr. Weinstock. She did not see a punch land because the door closed. Ms. Carter heard "a bunch of punch, punch," and Judge Murphy using expletives …"

Yow. Thanks to Jon Jouben for the pointer.

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