Murphy suspended without pay
The N.M. Supreme Court has suspended Third Judicial District Judge Mike Murphy, who was indicted last week on bribery charges.
The Associated Press was the first to report on the court’s order that suspends Murphy immediately and without pay. The order remains in effect until the court takes further action, the news service reported.
Barry Massey, a co-author of the AP report, tweeted that the court’s ruling was 4-1, with Justice Petra Maes recusing herself.
Murphy’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
A grand jury indicted Murphy Friday on third-degree felony charges of demanding or receiving a bribe by a public employee; bribery of a public officer or employee; and bribery, intimidation, or retaliation against a witness, in addition to a fourth-degree felony charge of criminal solicitation.
Prosecutors allege that Murphy solicited a bribe from potential judicial applicant Beverly Singleman, told District Judge Lisa Schultz to tell Singleman she needed to pay the bribe, and threatened to destroy Singleman’s reputation for telling others that he solicited a bribe from her.
Law enforcement was made aware of the situation by Schultz, who had sought advice from Maes about what to do before taking the allegations to then-District Attorney Susana Martinez in 2009. That prior knowledge of the case is apparently why Maes recused herself today.
Interestingly, Maes didn’t recuse herself last month when she and the other justices opted against suspending Murphy. The Judicial Standards Commission sought Murphy’s suspension in early April after NMPolitics.net and others reported on the allegations against Murphy. The court gave no reason then for denying the request to suspend Murphy.
Apparently, a formal indictment makes all the difference.
Update, 6:35 p.m.
You can read the court’s order suspending Murphy by clicking here. Thanks to Massey for providing a copy.
Update, 7:15 p.m.
Matt Chandler, who is prosecuting the case against Murphy, said this about the court’s ruling:
“It’s the right thing to do under these allegations, and I commend the Supreme Court for issuing this ruling.”
Update, 8:10 p.m.
Murphy’s attorney, Michael Stout, had this to say:
“Judge Murphy believes that public confidence in the judiciary is of extreme importance. So he understands temporarily not hearing cases.
“He also believes strongly in the rule of law – including the presumption of innocence. The judge is innocent. He only prays that others will afford him his presumption of innocence as he moves toward his return.”
A prior version of this article incorrectly stated that Murphy is charged with paying a bribe for his position.
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