Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Judge Apologizes for Letters to Boston Herald Publisher

The judge who won a libel judgment against the Boston Herald is back in the headlines. He has been writing to the paper's publisher Patrick Purcell, apparently urging him to drop the appeal, suggesting that the chances of reversal were none, and to pay up, but the letters have been on court stationery. In one letter, Judge Murphy wrote in part: "So, here’s the deal. I’m heading off to St. Maarten, and I’ll be back in town, for business purposes, on Monday, March 7. I will be checking my e-mail while I’m down there. I’d like to meet you at the Union Club on Monday, March 7. (No magic to this date.) (But it needs to be early in that week.) Here’s what will be the price of that meeting. You will have one person with you at the meeting. I suggest, but do not insist, that such a person be a highly honorable and sophisticated lawyer from your insurer.  Under NO circumstances should you involve Brown, Rudnick in this meeting. Or notify that firm that such a meeting is to take place. I will have my attorney (either Owen Todd or Howard Cooper) at the meeting. The meeting will be AB-SO-LUTE-LY confidential and “off the record” between four honorable men. You will bring to that meeting a cashier’s check, payable to me, in the sum of $3,260,000. No check, no meeting." In another he said, "...[Y]ou have ZERO chance of reversing my jury verdict on appeal. Anyone who is counselling you to the contrary . . . . is WRONG. Not 5% . . . . ZERO. "

Now Judge Murphy has apologized to the paper, and he may be investigated by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Meanwhile, his lawyers say the Boston Herald violated confidentiality by publishing the letters. The Herald continues to appeal the verdict.

Thanks to Joel Jacobsen of the blog judgingcrimes.com for alerting me to this new twist on the Murphy-Boston Herald libel story. See his post on it here.

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