An apology to Judge Murphy
In a tersely worded order, he blamed the defense and prosecution for failing to provide him with relevant information. And then he corrected what he viewed as an error by reinstating the charges.
I sympathize with Smith’s frustration. The layers to this case and the dizzying stream of motions and countermotions make it among the most difficult to keep up with that I’ve ever covered. And I covered courts for several years before I started NMPolitics.net.
In the course of writing about Smith’s reversal and other issues related to the Murphy case over the last few days, I discovered that I’ve been making my own whopper of an error in reporting on the case.
I’ve been writing, in article after article, that the indictment alleged that Murphy paid a bribe in exchange for his job and that he solicited a bribe from another potential judicial applicant.
But Murphy isn’t charged with paying a bribe for his job. The indictment on four felony charges is based on allegations 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. I verified that with prosecutor Matt Chandler on Thursday.
Separate from that indictment, Murphy faces another felony charge for allegedly offering “several promises” to 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.
Murphy allegedly told several people he paid money for his appointment. But in New Mexico, such an admission isn’t enough for a criminal charge. To this point, Chandler and his team have come up with no additional evidence that Murphy actually paid a bribe.
So he isn’t charged with paying a bribe.
Soliciting a bribe and the other charges Murphy faces are felonies and are serious. But they’re not the same as paying a bribe. I’ve been unintentionally mischaracterizing the charges against Murphy for months. On Thursday, I went back through NMPolitics.net’s archives and corrected every article in which I repeated the mistake. I also noted the correction at the end of each of those articles.
I could bore you with a lengthy piece about how I made such a big mistake and try to explain it away. But it wouldn’t change the reality that I failed to accurately portray the indictment.
You expect better from me. I expect better from myself. And all involved in this case – especially Murphy – deserve better.
My apologies to Judge Murphy. I’ll accurately portray the indictment in the future.