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Murphy’s law

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From the Summer 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 31. Feb. 13, 2002: The Boston Herald…

From the Summer 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 31.

Feb. 13, 2002: The Boston Herald publishes an article called “Murphy’s law,” part of a series detailing Judge Ernest Murphy’s supposedly lenient criminal sentencing. Citing “courthouse sources,” the article quotes Murphy as saying of a rape victim: “She’s 14. She got raped. Tell her to get over it.”

June 3: Murphy sues the Herald for libel.

Feb. 18, 2005: A jury awards Murphy $2.09 million, finding that reporter David Wedge and the Herald acted with actual malice.

February and March: Murphy writes two letters and a postscript to Herald Publisher Patrick Purcell on court stationery and using court envelopes saying Purcell should bring Murphy a cashier’s check for $3.26 million to settle the lawsuit because there is “ZERO chance” the jury verdict will be reversed.

Oct. 19: A judge reduces Murphy’s award to $2.01 million.

May 7, 2007: Massachusetts’ highest court upholds the judgment against the Herald.

June 4: The court denies the Herald’s motion to rehear the case.

July 10: The state Commission on Judicial Conduct files formal charges against Murphy for the letters he wrote to Purcell, saying he “engaged in willful misconduct which brings the judicial office into disrepute.”