Legal Ethics

What is appropriate punishment for judge who punched assistant public defender?

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Judge John Murphy apologized and took a month off from work to attend an anger-management class after punching an assistant public defender in the hallway outside his Florida courtroom last year.

But was that enough punishment? The state Judicial Qualificiations Commission will soon start considering this question in the legal ethics case against the Brevard County circuit court jurist, reports Florida Today. The JQC recommendation will then go to the state supreme court for a final decision.

Much of the June 2014 incident at the center of the case was filmed by a court security camera, so the facts largely will not be in dispute, pointed out JQC executive director and general counsel Mike Schneider. “Since the incident was mostly recorded on videotape, the real question will be what’s the appropriate level of discipline.” he told Florida Today in November.

Murphy’s lawyer is planning to introduce video evidence showing the assistant PD before another judge and will argue that the judge was provoked, according to the newspaper.

“We are not trying to use it as a defense. This is not a blame-the-victim defense,” Murphy’s lawyer Larry Turner, said during a hearing earlier this month. “But the behavior of Judge Murphy on June 2nd did not occur in a vacuum.”

Related coverage: “Judge on paid leave, seeking counseling after reported fight with public defender outside courtroom” “Assistant PD punched by judge resigns in protest after jurist returns to bench”

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