Judge Murphy arrested on new bribery charge
View the arrest warrant and criminal complaint, which contains more details about the allegations against Murphy, by clicking here.
Third Judicial District Judge Mike Murphy, already indicted on bribery charges and suspended from the bench, was arrested this morning on a new bribery charge.
Murphy was arrested at 8:45 a.m. and booked into the Doña Ana County Detention Center on a $10,000 unsecured bond. He’s facing a new felony charge of bribery of a public officer or public employee.
Murphy has bonded out of jail and was released just after 10:30 a.m.
Special prosecutor Matt Chandler, whose office filed the charges, said Murphy is alleged to have offered “several promises” to District Judge Lisa Schultz in December 2010 if she would agree to be the tie-breaking vote to make Douglas R. Driggers the chief district judge in Las Cruces.
Chandler did not allege that Driggers, who later became chief judge, did anything wrong.
Among the offers Murphy made to Schultz, Chandler said, was that he would “assist” Schultz in her defense against a Judicial Standards Commission investigation into an ethical complaint.
Both are things of value, which is where the bribery comes in: The chief judge gets a pay raise, and an investigation into judicial misconduct could result in a suspension without pay or removal from the bench, if the allegations are substantiated.
Chandler said prosecutors have an audio recording of the conversation between Schultz and Murphy.
The reason for the investigation of Schultz and its outcome would only become public if the commission found misconduct and asked the Supreme Court to discipline Schultz. That has not happened, so either the investigation is ongoing, or it was closed without finding misconduct.
No arrest last time; this arrest OK’d by Richardson appointee
Murphy is already on suspension without pay because of the other bribery case against him. In that case, Murphy is facing felony bribery charges and a misdemeanor charge of violating the state’s Governmental Conduct Act.
Prosecutors allege in that case 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.
Murphy wasn’t arrested when he was indicted in May, so today is the first time he has been taken to the county jail as an inmate. The jail has a separate area where arrested law enforcement officers and others who might be in danger if they are in contact with other inmates can be held.
According to Murphy’s booking sheet (which NMPolitics.net has redacted only to remove personal information), Doña Ana County Magistrate Judge Conrad Perea approved Murphy’s arrest warrant and set bond.
Since Richardson judicial appointments are an issue in this case, it’s worth noting that Perea is a Democrat who was appointed by Richardson in 2010.
Murphy’s attorney, Michael Stout of Las Cruces, had no immediate comment.
A prior version of this article incorrectly stated that Murphy is charged with paying a bribe for his position.
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