Florida Judge to Attorney: ‘If You Want to Fight, Let’s Go Out Back’

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Trial by combat was de rigueur in Germany around the Middle Ages, but legal fisticuffs seem to be making a comeback in modern-day Florida.


A Brevard County judge is accused of grabbing a public defender and slapping him after a disagreement Monday, and the audio of the scuffle was captured.

Brevard County Judge John Murphy apparently went one-on-one with a public defender Monday after the pair exchanged words over whether a client should get a speedy trial date.

On Tuesday, Murphy took a leave of absence and agreed to “seek anger management counseling and treatment,” Chief Judge John M. Harris said in a statement. All Murphy’s cases were reassigned to other judges.

Trial by combat involves disputants fighting it out in single — sometimes mortal — combat. The winner was judged to have been in the right. The rule of law, with codified trial procedures, was considered a major step forward from the notion that that might makes right.

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