Judge Who Wrote ‘Bizarre’ Letters Following Libel Win Agrees to Resign
Posted Aug 21, 2008 7:24 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Updated: A judge accused of writing “bizarre” and “threatening” letters to the publisher of the Boston Herald has agreed to resign.
Judge Ernest Murphy is stepping down under an agreement that says he is permanently disabled from performing his judicial duties, the Boston Globe reports. Murphy says he suffers from post-traumatic stress because of stories the Herald wrote portraying him as soft on crime and insensitive to victims.
Murphy sued the paper for libel and won a $2 million verdict. One of the letters he later sent on court stationery invited the publisher to lunch and directed him to bring a check for $500,000 more than the amount of the judgment plus interest. The Commission on Judicial Conduct had recommended a $25,000 fine and 30-day suspension for the letters.
The commission has been invited to amend its filings in the ethics case against Murphy in light of his resignation. His agreement with the state’s highest court allows him to continue to receive pay for up to 120 days. The pay will end if the 65-year-old judge receives a disability pension.
The agreement is the result of a newly disclosed ethics complaint that contends the judge has issues that are “likely bases for inappropriate behavior and failure to make sound decisions on which to rest judicial rulings.”
Lawyer Randy Chapman, president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, told the Boston Herald that the unusual declaration could provide fodder for appeals of cases Murphy has heard.
Updated on Aug. 22 to include Boston Herald coverage.