Monday, June 2, 2003
Ex-Judge Murphy Asks to Enter State Bar Diversion Program
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patrick B. Murphy, facing possible discipline by the State Bar, has asked to enter the organization’s diversion program for lawyers with substance abuse and mental health problems, the MetNews has learned.
Murphy was to have appeared Friday before State Bar Court Judge Robert Talcott for a status conference, according to a court document, but the conference was continued to today. Such conferences are ordinarily open to the public.
But in an order late Thursday, issued in response to a request to allow still photography at the conference, Talcott said “the proceedings are closed to the public as this status conference arises from Respondent’s request to participate in the State Bar Court’s Pilot Program for Respondents with Substance Abuse and/or Mental Health Issues, and privacy issues will be a major part of the discussions during said status conference.”
Talcott said in his order photography would be permitted outside the courtroom, but a court official reported Friday that the judge had decided to conduct the conference telephonically.
Murphy did not respond to an interview request sent by e-mail Friday.
The 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 College of Chiropractic in Los Angeles, and was often seen at community functions.
The State Bar filed the 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 is representing himself in the State Bar proceedings, has never publicly indicated any substance abuse problem. He has, 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.
If Murphy is accepted into the program, the judge can order that he be placed on involuntary inactive enrollment or may restrict the scope of his practice while he undergoes treatment. If an approved course of treatment is completed, the disciplinary action may be dismissed, or the degree of discipline reduced, according to State Bar rules.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company