Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Judges can’t seem to stay off police blotters these days. They are the ones who are supposed to uphold the law in our courtrooms?
The latest example comes from New Mexico, where a state judge faces charges that he sexually assaulted a prostitute. District Judge Albert S. “Pat” Murdoch, 59, was arrested last week and charged with criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness. He was released on a $50,000 bond overnight.
It’s extremely unusual for an exalted member of the judiciary to face such charges, right? Well, not exactly. U.S. District Judge Jack Camp, of Atlanta, was arrested last October on drug and weapons charges related to his relationship with a stripper. The “honorable” Judge Camp was relieved of his law license and sentenced to 30 days (30 whole days!) in federal prison.
In fact, Georgia seems to be Ground Zero for “judges gone wild.” We’ll take a closer look at the Peach State in a moment. But first, what in the heck is going on out in New Mexico? Will Murdoch, another fine public servant, get off with a similar slap on his berobed wrist–much like the one Camp received? Well, it’s too early to say. But Murdoch seems to be quite the rounder. From a report by MSNBC:
A criminal complaint said the prostitute told police that she had visited Murdoch approximately eight times in his home after he answered an online personals ad and exchanged money for sexual acts.
She said that the first time she met him, he said he wanted to perform oral sex on her but she refused. But Murdoch nonetheless “forced himself on her to perform the oral sex,” according to the complaint.
That might not be the most disturbing aspect of Murdoch’s behavior. Consider this:
She later videotaped another encounter with the judge where he again performed oral sex on her against her will, it said.
It said she did so after she began posing hypothetical situations regarding a woman making allegations against him and he responded that “. . . he would use the police and his connections to take care of the situation,” according to the complaint.
Not only did “his honor” abuse a woman, he planned to abuse the justice system, as well. He probably would have gotten away with it if his victim had not produced her own version of “sex, lies, and videotape.”
What about the wacky judges of Georgia? They have been so bad that The Wall Street Journal spotlighted them last August. Consider some of the extracurricular activities of judges in Georgia:
* One sent a message over Facebook to a criminal defendant, saying he’d give her behind-the-scenes advice on her case.
* One was caught having sex in a parked car with the public defender assigned to his courtroom.
* Another inappropriately touched a prosecutor and investigator after they sat in his lap posing for a photo.
How bad has it gotten in Georgia?
The Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Georgia agency that investigates judges, has given its investigator Richard Hyde, a former Atlanta police detective, the authority to confront judges with investigative findings and to negotiate a quick resignation, according to the AJC.
Hyde “is traveling around the state collecting scalps,” one Georgia lawyer said. Hyde declined comment.
Georgia judge Frank Mills III said judges in the state have noticed the recent resignations. “I think we’re all bewildered by it,” he said. “But most of these cases are not similar, so it’s hard to say there’s any trend.”
If you aren’t a member of the legal fraternity, it’s not hard to see a trend. A frightening number of judges are slime balls and criminals–on and off the bench. The problem hardly is limited to Georgia and a few isolated cases in other states. It’s a nationwide issue, one that affects both state and federal courts.
As someone who has witnessed the corrupt official acts of multiple state and federal judges in Alabama, I am not at all surprised by these stories out of New Mexico and Georgia. And the kind of judicial arrogance that Murdoch displayed, thinking he could game the system to cover up his crimes, rings loud and true to me. My guess is that Murdoch made an untold number of unlawful rulings over the years against parties before him–and got away with it time after time. It took a prostitute, with the presence of mind to obtain irrefutable evidence, to bring him down for his outside-the-courtroom behavior.
Judge Murdoch, of course, is innocent until proven guilty. But he appears to have stepped in doo-doo that will not easily wash away.
Is there a lesson in this for the public? If judges are allowed to commit brazenly unlawful acts on the bench–and no one holds them accountable–we should not be surprised when they prove to be slime balls after the robes come off.