Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, September 2, 2003


Page 1


Former Judge Murphy Failed to Appear at Diversion Hearings

State Bar Places Censured Ex-Jurist on Involuntary Inactive Status After Default


By DAVID WATSON, Staff Writer


Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patrick B. Murphy, after asking to enter the State Bar’s pilot diversion program for lawyers with substance abuse and mental health problems, failed to appear at two State Bar Court hearings and has been placed on involuntary inactive status, a State Bar spokesperson said Friday.

The State Bar will ask the Supreme Court to disbar Murphy based on previously filed disciplinary charges, the spokesperson said.

Murphy was referred to the diversion program at his request and appeared Aug. 4 at a conference in State Bar Court in Los Angeles to determine whether he could be accepted into it, according to the spokesperson. He was asked to return Aug. 5, and the conference was continued to the following day when he did not show up, she said.

When he also failed to appear on Aug. 6 his default was entered and he was involuntarily enrolled as inactive under the provisions of Business and Professions Code Sec. 6007(e), she explained.

The State Bar disciplinary action against Murphy, a Citrus Municipal Court judge from 1993 until court unification in 2000 and a Los Angeles Superior Court judge from then until his resignation in May 2001, largely tracks the proceedings brought against him by the Commission on Judicial Performance.

The commission had already filed an order removing him from the bench before it was notified that he had resigned. He was censured and barred from performing court-appointed judicial work.

Like the commission, the State Bar has accused him of a lack of veracity, based on his claims of serious illness while missing more than 120 weeks of work during his last five years as a judge.

State Bar lawyers have noted that Murphy during that time enrolled in a foreign medical school, taught at Glendale University College of Law, attended Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles, and was often seen at community functions.

‘Judicial Phobia’

The State Bar filed charges against the ex-judge last November, a little over four months after he reactivated his membership. He had not attempted to practice law for 26 months following his resignation.

Murphy, who represented himself in the State Bar proceedings, had never publicly indicated any substance abuse problem. He had, however, claimed to suffer from mental health problems, including “judicial phobia” to which he attributed most of his absences from work, which he said was manifested in panic attacks and diagnosed by his psychiatrist.

The pilot program was established by the State Bar under the Attorney Diversion and Assistance Act sponsored two years ago by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, and has been operational since October of last year.

Had Murphy been accepted into the program, a State Bar Court judge could have ordered that he be placed on involuntary inactive enrollment or restricted the scope of his practice while he undergoes treatment. If an approved course of treatment is completed under the program, a disciplinary action may be dismissed, or the degree of discipline reduced, according to State Bar rules.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company