Tensions erupted in a Brevard County courtroom this morning when a judge challenged an assistant public defender to "go out back and I'll just beat your ass."
Public Defender Blaise Trettis said Judge John Murphy grabbed Assistant Public Defender Andrew Weinstock and punched him in the head.
Video of the incident was released today to FLORIDA TODAY.
In the video, Murphy and Weinstock exchange words about a case after Weinstock refuses to waive one clients' right to a speedy trial.
"You want to set it for docket sounding, set it for docket sounding. I'm not waiving in any case. This is an emergency created by the state," the attorney says.
Murphy responds: "You know if I had a rock I would throw it at you right now. Stop pissing me off. Just sit down. I'll take care of it. I don't need your help. Sit down."
"You know what? I'm the public defender I have a right to be here and I have a right to stand and represent my clients."
"I said sit down. If you want to fight lets go out back and I'll just beat your ass."
The men disappear off camera, and loud banging can be heard. Public Defender Blaise Trettis said the men went into a hallway behind the courtroom typically used by judges and jurors.
"The lawyer said as soon as he got in the hallway the judge grabbed him by the collar and began punching him in the head," Trettis said. Trettis said Weinstock tried to stop the blows, and courtroom bailiffs came into the hallway and pulled the two apart.
On the video, while they are off camera, one of the men says: "I'm not kidding. You wanna [expletive] with me?"
The judge returns to the courtroom, but the attorney does not, according to the video. Murphy is out of breath when he retakes his seat.
"I will catch my breath eventually," he says. Those gathered in the courtroom applaud.
Trettis said he met with Weinstock, but he had not seen the courtroom video when he spoke with FLORIDA TODAY Monday evening. He said to his knowledge, criminal charges won't be pursued.
"I hope it's not a reflection on Judge Murphy's really outstanding legal career," Trettis said, adding, "If it's true, you know, I think it's really an uncharacteristic, isolated incident."