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Embattled judge steps down from bench

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  1. Libel and Privacy
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on Wednesday deemed embattled Superior Court Judge Ernest B. Murphy “permanently disabled" and officially…

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on Wednesday deemed embattled Superior Court Judge Ernest B. Murphy “permanently disabled" and officially removed him from his post, the Boston Herald reports.  

Murphy has said a libel suit he filed against the Herald took a severe physical and emotional toll on him and that he suffers from post-traumatic stress.  

The decision ends just one of two pending complaints against the judge.   

In April, the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct issued a 24-page report recommending a 30-day suspension and $25,000 fine for the judge, concluding that he “engaged in willful misconduct which brings the judicial office into disrepute as well as conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and unbecoming to a judicial officer.” The Court has yet to address those penalties.  

That report also addressed Murphy’s behavior following a $2.1 million verdict in his favor in his 2005 suit.  Murphy, using court letterhead, sent two messages to Herald publisher Patrick Purcell demanding a payment of $3.26 million and alleging that the paper had no chance on appeal. 

One of Murphy’s letters threatened that it would be a “BIG mistake” to show the letter to anyone.  

Murphy, who has collected his full $129,694 salary for more than a year while off the bench, asked the court to allow him to remain on paid leave until he retired or was granted a disability pension. Instead, the court ruled Murphy’s pay will cease in 120 days. 

Last year, Gov. Deval Patrick rejected Murphy’s bid for a disability pension.