Judge allows bribery case against Murphy to move forward
A magistrate judge ruled Saturday that a new felony bribery case against District Judge Mike Murphy can move forward.
From the Albuquerque Journal:
“Following a two-day preliminary hearing that ended Saturday, state Magistrate Judge Conrad Perea concluded there was probable cause to believe Murphy tried to bribe fellow District Judge Lisa Schultz with favorable assignments and help with a potentially damaging Judicial Standards Commission investigation.
“In exchange, Murphy wanted Schultz to vote for Douglas Driggers as chief judge of the Third Judicial District in an election last December, special prosecutor Matt Chandler of Clovis has said.”
During a two-day hearing in Las Cruces, the judge listened to a tape recording Schultz secretly made of the conversation on which the charge is based. Michael Stout, Murphy’s attorney, argued that Murphy’s offer to “go out of my way” to help Schultz defend herself against an ethics complaint in exchange for her support for Driggers wasn’t bribery.
“That’s a crime? To say you are going to help someone out? … Tell the Judicial Standards Commission you did a good job, not a bad job? This is politicking; it’s lobbying,” the Journal quoted Stout as saying.
But Perea found there was enough evidence for special prosecutor Matt Chandler to make his case to a jury.
“Difficult as this decision was, I had to do what I believed was right, with all due respect,” the Journal quoted Perea as telling Murphy.
During the hearing, Stout asked Schultz if she wanted to “bring Mike Murphy down.” She said she doesn’t wish Murphy ill and, by coming forward in this case, she has “everything to lose and nothing to gain, and I continue to be a whistleblower despite that.”
“This kind of bribery strikes at the heart of American democracy,” the Journal quoted Schultz as saying.
In addition to this more recent bribery charge, Murphy faces bribery charges in another case. In that case, 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.
Murphy has pleaded not guilty. No one else has been charged or received notice that they may be indicted in that case.
Now that Perea has approved the new case moving to district court, Chandler intends to join the two cases, so Murphy could face trial on all charges at once.
A prior version of this article incorrectly stated that Murphy is charged with paying a bribe for his position.
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