Judiciary will handle Murphy case responsibly, Daniels says
While others ‘pontificate and speculate and engage in innuendo,’ Daniels tells fellow judges that the judiciary must ‘make sure the processes of the law continue’
The chief justice of the N.M. Supreme Court says that, at the conclusion of the bribery case involving District Judge Mike Murphy, the state’s judges will be able to hold their heads high because the judiciary will have handled the case responsibly.
“I think when this is all over with there won’t be any comment about a dark cloud over the entire judiciary, because I think we will respond to this in a responsible way,” Charles W. Daniels recently told state judges as a meeting in Albuquerque.
Daniels was responding, during opening remarks at a judicial conclave, to an Albuquerque Journal editorial that asked the question on the minds of many: “Did the ugly pay-to-play tentacles of the Bill Richardson machine reach into the state’s judicial appointment process?”
“It is unfortunate, but the indictment casts a cloud on the judiciary…” the editorial states. “It is now up to the justice system, the bench and the Judicial Standards Commission to dispel it with a good dose of sunshine.”
Daniels told judges that the judiciary’s applying of the rule of law in the case will remove the dark cloud.
“We all know that we will apply the rule of law at every level throughout our courts,” he said. “We all know that the rule of law means that no person, no public official, no citizen, is above the requirement of obedience to the law, and that no person, no public official, no private citizen, is beneath the protections of the law.”
“We will stand by that and we will apply it, and we will come through this and I think we will be able to hold our heads high,” Daniels said.
You can watch Daniels’ speech here, thanks to video sent to NMPolitics.net by the UNM Judicial Education Center:
Daniels also referred to an ethical requirement that prohibits judges from commenting on cases that are or might come before them. He said some have been discouraged by “the widespread innuendo far beyond the allegations in the particular case involving one defendant that’s now pending in one of the districts in the state.”
The special prosecutor has said his investigation has expanded beyond Murphy, but no one else has been charged with a crime or received notice that they may be indicted. There is certainly an implication in the case that could cast suspicion on any judge appointed by Richardson.
Daniels, himself a Richardson appointee, is one of two judges besides Murphy who have faced the most scrutiny. A statement attributed to Murphy in a law enforcement report seems to imply that Daniels might have paid a bribe in exchange for his judgeship:
“Judge Murphy also stated that if he was guilty of buying a judgeship, then what does that make Chief Justice (Charlie) Daniels.”
When asked by NMPolitics.net about that statement in May, Daniels opted to confront it head-on.
“I did not buy this position,” Daniels said at the time. “No one ever asked me to, and I never would have entertained the idea.”
Investigators have also made clear that they have their eyes on District Judge Jim T. Martin, who witnesses say attended some meetings with Murphy that are related to the charges against Murphy.
Martin has retained a criminal defense attorney and is not hearing criminal cases for the time being to avoid a conflict.
Daniels said at the recent meeting in Albuquerque that, even though judges “have to keep quiet while all the controversy swirls around us and other people pontificate and speculate and engage in innuendo,” judges must “make sure the processes of the law continue.”
The case against Murphy
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.
A prior version of this article incorrectly stated that Murphy is charged with paying a bribe for his position.
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