The Florida Supreme Court has fired a Brevard Court judge for "appalling behavior" after he infamously threatened and then got into a physical altercation with a public defender outside the courtroom, all of which was caught on video.
In a ruling Thursday, the top court overruled the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, which recommended a 120-day suspension, a $50,000 fine, a public reprimand and continued participation in a mental health therapy program for Judge John C. Murphy.
Instead, the Supreme Court ruled that Murphy was not fit to serve as a judge after the confrontation with assistant public defender Andrew Weinstock on June 2, 2014.
"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."
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 judge, first elected to the court in September 2006, served with Special Forces in several countries and was awarded the Bronze Star as well two Meritorious Service Medals.
The Supreme Court noted that "the severity of Judge Murphy’s behavior and the VA finding leave open the possibility of future misconduct."
After the ruling, the Brevard County Chief Judge John D. Galluzzo wished Murphy "success in his future efforts," while noting that the vacancy caused by his remove from office should not result in "significant disruption of court services."