Brevard County Judge Removed From Bench. What Happens When Those In Authority Taint An Entire System

Character makes the difference between those who will not abuse their authority, and those who act like street fighters, bullies, or are criminally minded. The way one behaves in a negative situation, with self-control, is a quality of a good person and a good leader.

People have problems.  They have bad days.  They go through stressful situations.  When they hold positions of power, they cannot allow problems or stress to cause them to do the wrong things.  They cannot abuse their authority because of personal problems or stress.  They must be above reproach.

Super humans?  In a way, yes.  When people are placed in positions of authority to do super things, the public expects them to always be professional and have the interests of the people they serve as priority.

Just imagine someone who lacks self-control telling others what they should or must do and having the authority to punish or retaliate when people don’t obey them.

There must be millions of people who have completed their educational goals and did everything just right, but they don’t have what it takes to handle authority.   When I say authority, I’m thinking about those positions where the lives of others can be ruined by a stroke of the pen, or the pulling of a trigger, or when signing Executive Orders.

I went looking for examples of leaders or those in authority who did something shameful and what happened to not normalize their behavior.  The story below started in June 2014, and ended on December 18, 2015.  As in this case, anyone can complete law school, practice, then run for a judgeship and be elected.  Judge Murphy was elected in 2006, so he had enough experience to know right from wrong.

There was a courtroom cattle call in Judge John C. Murphy’s courtroom for criminal defendants in Brevard County, Florida.   Public Defender Andrew Weinstock refused to waive a client’s right to a speedy trial.  Then, Weinstock did it again.  Judge Murphy lost his composure.

“You know, if I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now,” he shouted at Weinstock, “Stop pissing me off. Just sit down. I’ll take care of this. I don’t need your help. Sit down.”

Weinstock responded. “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.”

Judge Murphy responded, “I said sit down. If you want to fight, let’s go out back, and I’ll just beat your ass.”

They went out back. The audio was captured on the judge’s microphone.   Judge Murphy returned to the bench, but Weinstock did not.  Judge Murphy continued to pass judgment on the public defender’s clients.

A panel of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended that Murphy be given a four-month suspension without pay and a $50,000 fine.  That Commission can make recommendations, but it is the Florida Supreme Court that makes the final decision on punishments for lawyers and judges.

In October 2015, the Florida Supreme Court immediately suspended Judge Murphy.  The court gave him until October 26, 2015 to show why he should not be permanently removed from the bench.

Murphy took a month-long leave of absence and issued a public apology.  He asked the Supreme Court to uphold the commission’s recommendations. His lawyer argued that Murphy never threw a punch, and he thought that was relevant.  The Florida Supreme Court believed otherwise.

During the disciplinary hearing, Murphy submitted a Veterans Affairs finding that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Afghanistan. The Supreme Court noted that “the severity of Judge Murphy’s behavior and the VA finding leave open the possibility of future misconduct.”

The Florida Supreme Court recognized that Judge Murphy’s conduct was not simply a smear upon himself.  It tainted Florida’s judicial system.

“Notwithstanding his prior judicial performance, Judge Murphy’s total lack of self-control became a national spectacle — an embarrassment not only to the judge himself but also to Florida’s judicial system. Given the clear erosion of public confidence in the judiciary caused by his misconduct, removal is an appropriate sanction.”




Posted on 05/06/2018, in politics, Potpourri and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Wow! I wrote a post today on America’s mental health crisis, and this sad story fits right into that narrative.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Robert, thanks for the head’s-up about your post. I went there and read a portion but have to return to read the rest.

      Since Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re hearing about PTSD. I’ve wondered — did that exist in soldiers in other wars too and was not discovered? How did millions of soldiers return from hostile areas and seem to get along well as civilians, where some now become police officers or judges, and the moment they abuse their authority, blame it on PTSD?

      There is true mental illness, and then there are people who are undisciplined. Take Donald Trump for example. I don’t think he suffers from mental illness, but an entitlement dysfunction. He’s always gotten his way in his businesses because he was not under checks and balances. Now, he seems to believe that he should still get his way and checks and balances are “witch hunts”.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Oh, I wasn’t plugging my post. I was just noting the coincidence.

        Psychological problems resulting from war have been known for a very long time. The first known written records trace back to ancient Greece. During the American Civil War, it was referred to as “weariness.” In WWI and WWII, the terms used were “shell shock” and “battle fatigue,” respectively. PTSD is a clinical diagnosis which began in the 1970s.

        America is indeed in the midst of a mental health crisis as the professionals noted in the C-SPAN panel discussion I posted on.

        I do understand why many people prefer to attribute bad behavior to character flaws rather than to psychological disorders. That is our human nature, after all. But, the latter explanation is more scientific. It’s easier to see a divisive figure like Trump as motivated by bad intent. To me, he exhibits classic megalomania – i.e. Narcissistic Personality Disorder or what is more broadly known as sociopathy/psychopathy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Robert, I didn’t see it as a plug. I follow your blog, and you having written that something that goes along with this post, is something I wanted to read.

          Thanks for those explanations for what conditions were called before PTSD.

          In my opinion, Trump does exhibit narcissistic characteristics. I’m unsure of what it is called professionally, but he also doesn’t care who he hurts; blames those he hurt for causing him to hurt them, and never shows any remorse. Those types of things can develop when raised in an environment of entitlement. I don’t think there is medication to help Trump and those like him.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Agreed. Having the type of psychological issues as exhibited by Trump is neither an excuse nor an immunity for bad behavior. And, there are no medications (i.e. drugs) which can treat sociopathy/psychopathy. Furthermore, even PTSD sufferers – like this judge – should not be able to use their conditions to evade justice. Mental illnesses and disorders are not a one-size-fits-all condition. There are a wide range of diagnoses, and each should be treated as uniquely as are physical ailments.

            I do hope, however, that Americans begin to see the causative relationships between mental health and the nation’s worsening social problems. It really is a crisis in the making, and simply addressing the symptoms through the criminal justice system offers no long-term solution whatsoever.


  2. The Militant Negro

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Xena, It’s about time this judge got his.

    We know of someone else who will one day get what he deserves as well:

    Liked by 2 people

    • roderick2012

      Mindy, you beat to it.

      Well we all know how George hates to be ignored

      Liked by 1 person

    • crustyolemothman

      At some point in his pathetic life, he will push someone too far! He will learn that he is not made of steel or bullet proof when he pushes the wrong person to the final point. Karma is one of the few things that none of us is able to escape or avoid… Thanks for publishing the link.. 😉


  4. crustyolemothman

    Dear Xena,

    I would hope that they revisited each and every verdict that he issued in the last several years to ensure that justice was truly served. I would suspect that there are many instances where he went beyond reason and facts of law in many of his verdicts.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Nothing, they just get to step down with a fat pension.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve always struggled to understand the American justice system, from the very little I have read or seen on docos, but it seems that a lot of personal opinion and power gets into teh system. This beggars belief that a person of such office would fall in such a way. Having said that, one wonders what was going on for him (not that that would excuse the behaviour pre se).

    Liked by 1 person

    • pvcann,
      Murphy said that his father had recently died and it was the “perfect storm.” I don’t think those type of excuses work for the average John Doe, and the Florida Supreme Court did not allow Murphy to get away with them either.

      Liked by 3 people

      • No, agree with that, but is the system broken?

        Liked by 2 people

        • The system is broken in a sense like a car that has multiple drivers, all with different driving habits. Put someone behind the wheel who is driving in the wrong gear, not observant, or thinks that the car is special so it disrespects other cars and drivers, and we have problems. Add to that someone behind the wheel whose mind is under the influence of stress, running late, or distracted, and the car can end up in an accident that ruins many lives. At least now, former Judge Murphy won’t be in the driver’s seat.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes, wow. Thanks for the response. It is totally alien to our inherited English system here, had that happened here he would have been debarred and sacked immediately.


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