FLORIDA JUDGE CHALLENGES A PUBLIC DEFENDER TO FIGHT THEN SUCKER PUNCHES HIM IN COURT

A Florida judge had an unusually harsh response to a public defender’s request for speedy trial, “You know if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now, stop pissing me off. If you want to fight let’s go out back and I’ll beat your ass.” Soon Judge John Murphy and the public defender could then be heard having at it in a loud altercation outside of the courtroom video camera. It’s unknown if the judge also has plans to fight the public defender’s client or any others in attendance, but he has been accused of sucker punching the hapless public defender.

Could the judge be prosecuted and sent to jail or will he merely face a complaint for being abusive, rude and intemperate? While patiently waiting for his call to hire me as I calculate what kind of fee discount to give a lunatic judge, let’s look at some of his possible defenses to the charge of battery. The judge could go deep in arguing that any lawyer deserves to be taken to the woodshed when asking for something as unlikely to be granted as speedy trial requirements in Florida. After all, unlike a good fair fight, asking for a client’s speedy trial is a known wast of time.  

Of course, the judge could argue that this is a clear case of mutual combat. In accepting the formal challenge of a fight, the public defender should not be viewed as a victim but as a co-combatant. Perhaps everyone who suffers with the judge on a daily basis should be presumed as co-combatants.

Yet in other cases involving bar room fights rather than courtroom tussles, police often arrest both parties not only for battery but for disorderly conduct. And the police likely would also investigate both combatants for intoxicating substances. Is it possible that our careless judge became intoxicated from wearing a black robe for too long? Or maybe the judge just doesn’t like trials. In Judge John Murphy’s application filed with the State of Florida to be named a judge, he wrote that he had only had twenty-five jury trial over his entire career.

Finally, the judge could explain in mitigation of sentencing that he was merely standing his ground with fists rather than Florida’s more traditional lawful lethal weapons. No, his best defense is to set his battery case for a trial as soon as possible – after all, this is his career – to let a fair minded American jury decide his fate before the Judicial Qualification Commission gets the facts. Unfortunately for that to happen he’ll need to find a defense lawyer not only willing to ask for a speedy trial, but ready to fight some fool judge to get it.