Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Col Murphy Guilty

Here is a link to an Air Force Times article about Col. Murphy's conviction by members on Wednesday. As reported,
A jury of officers convicted Col. Michael D. Murphy of three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, one count of failing to obey a lawful order and three counts of larceny related to travel expenses for teaching engagements outside the service.
Because the White House military Office refused to release Col Murphy's classified military record for use at sentencing, he will face no punishment. See coverage of that ruling here.

While Col. Murphy won't face punishment at court-martial, I suspect this isn't the last time he'll need a licensed trial lawyer in the military.


Anonymous said...

Unbelievable really! The Accused must really have balls of steal, his audaciousness is amazing: Taking all those high level jobs knowing he didn’t have bar license! He can’t have any sort of conscience. How could any normal person sleep at night knowing that at anytime the security clearance investigators might be actually be competent and do a public records check.

He really should have been punished!

Consider, if a new JAG did the same thing and lied about having a bar license when he/she was commissioned and was caught at, for example, their 4-5 year mark instead of when they were an O-6! They would be hammered! Even if they have the same character as the good Col they wouldn’t have those classified OPR’s or connections that an AFLOA commander has (by definition if you’re the AFLOA commander you have a lot of connections).

The MJ and Air Force Court’s ruling were completely slanted toward him and flawed. If their ruling is actually followed it means that anyone (actually only military) who does highly classified work now has a free pass…But of course it won’t be followed for rank-and-file cases.

It’s impossible to avoid the appearance of favoritism when all the judges had to have had some interaction with him during their career. This case should have been tried in Federal Court as a fraud case, false official statement case, and of course larceny.

Ama Goste said...


While I share your outrage at the "get out of trouble free" card the Murphy case seems to give to those who have done secret-squirrel missions, I must disagree with some of your assertions.

The taint issue is the reason they brought in the Army's top trial judge to do this case. I'm not sure why a different CCA wasn't also used for the government appeal, but AFCCA was never under Col Murphy's command. That court reports straight to TJAG. Also, Col Murphy was only the AFLOA commander for a couple of months, although he'd certainly been in the JAG Department/Corps long enough to know most, if not all, the senior AF JAGs.

The "try them in federal court" option is one that is currently being bandied about by individuals proposing changes to the military justice process.

NBM3 said...

Back in 2003 through 2006 I was lobbying the Armed Services Committees to amend the UCMJ to require admission of practice in at least one of the states or territories. A few Members of Congress and senior staff were very interested in this idea and it almost made it into the NDAA for FY 2005. When the NDAA went to conference the proposed amendment was taken out because there was very heavy opposition by the Pentagon. Civlian lawyers in OSD-OGC (not going to name any names here) assured the Committees (via senior staff) in behind-the-scene-meetings that regulations alone are sufficient.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what the Secretary of the Air Force does with regard to Murphy's retirement. The Secretary can retire him in the last rank he held satisfactorily. My guess, is that Murphy knew he was disbarred when he was an O-2 or O-3. Does anyone think the Secretary will take him down that far?

Anonymous said...

My memory of Air Force regulations is getting kind of rusty, but can't they do a discharge board on him and discharge him under Other than Honorable conditions. And no retirement?

In the civilian world if you're not licensed the person is usually required to refund the entire fee even if they did a great job on the case.

Anonymous said...

If he was an NCO who got out of a CM free they would review his last few travel and move claims, Art 15 for missing documents or questionable charges, and board him.

My guess is that the good Col will slide off into the sun pension intact. See, eg, Major Steven Bishop who defrauded the government for at least $25k, was convicted of same, and got to keep his pension.

NBM3 said...

I guess the old saying still applies: Different spanks for different ranks.

Anonymous said...

Murphy and Fiscus.....

Someone told me a while back that Murphy had been on the 0-7 list when this broke - anyone able to confirm that? Thanks.

Ama Goste said...

Yes, Murphy had a line number for O-7, as the AFLOA/CC slot is an O-7
slot. The AF Times didn't get it exactly right. Although I've never seen it confirmed, the suspicion is that the license issue arose when the investigators starting nosing around before Senate confirmation.

Anonymous said...

That he did his job remarkably well proves what many already know -- a "license to practice law" is a nonsensical gatekeeper that keeps people of good intelligence from reading THEIR OWN LANGUAGE IN BOOKS and writing, arguing, or even deciding cases based on it. If you want a very good license to do this, from a top "law school," you will pay $100k+.

In the larger view it is no different than why Priests used to speak in a language the laity could not understand -- if the laity could understand, they would never want that Priest to hold his office. When your driver's license is your "license to practice law," as I believe it will eventually be, GOOD lawyers including the Colonel will still have jobs but poor ones -- who should have no special right of access to "the law" -- will be forced to find a real job. As it should be.

John O'Connor said...

Thank you, Mrs. Murphy. The problem with that is that the average citizen (the ones most likely to get fleeced by underqualified lawyers, lack the ability to discern between the qualified and unqualified. Licensure is supposed to ensure some baseline level of competence. I know it doesn't do all that good a job of it, but, really, how trustworthy is a "lawyer" who doesn't even do what's necessary to maintain what the law requires for him to practice law. In any event, the "market" would do an exceedingly poor job of sorting out who is competent and who's not when it comes to lawyers providing services to the common man and woman on the street.

TC said...

What I really want to know is how come "Jobs For Jags" keeps comming up when Col. Murphy gets mentioned...Coincidence? I think not!!!:


Monday, April 28, 2008

Jobs for JAGs program

Here at CAAFlog, we are all for the employment of former judge advocates. So I'm happy to pass along this brochure for this Friday's Jobs for JAGS program sponsored by the Pentagon Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

The program will be held at the Army Navy Club. The cost is $75, which includes lunch. Online sign-up is available at
Posted by Dwight Sullivan at 7:53 PM


Anonymous said...

The first one should be the staff attorney position recently announced at CAAF.

Mon Apr 28, 10:35:00 PM EDT
Anonymous [TC] said...

Maybe Col. Murphy can fill that one since he'll be looking for a job real soon. That's not a bad idea, I would gladly buy him a ticket.

Mon Apr 28, 10:47:00 PM EDT
Christopher Mathews said...

Ouch. If Colonel Murphy will be "looking for a job real soon," he may not actually qualify for the "jobs for JAGs" program.

Tue Apr 29, 03:34:00 AM EDT
Post a Comment


Oh yeah, comes up every April, Guess it is a coincidence. Hard to believe a year went by that fast.

Phil Cave said...

How about the former Marine whose name is on the top of the class board at Naval Justice School. He did pretty good "lawyering."

Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte said...

He also did pretty good in combat in Viet Nam.

Anonymous said...

I stop reading once more than one military convict posts.

Ama Goste said...

Col Murphy had his JAG badge stripped from him when all this came to light, so "Jobs for JAGs" isn't intended for him.

egn said...

Anon 1710:
"If you want a very good license to do this, from a top 'law school,' you will pay $100k+."

This is the very problem with the unlicensed practice of law. Lawyers are trained to be able to, among other things, parse and distinguish the language in the way that the layperson does not. It's not to say that someone without a license is unable to speak the language of law (indeed, some do so very competently at that).

That said, legal training, which is what you can easily pay $100K+ for, can be very good or very bad. Col Murphy most certainly had legal training, from one of the top ten law schools of this country, the U. of Texas. What he didn't have, was a license to practice -- which, incidentally, does not come in varieties of very good or very bad. There are those who go to bottom-tiered law schools who turn out to be excellent practitioners of law, while those who go to very good and very expensive schools and can't lawyer their way out of a paper bag.

Anonymous said...

He also did not have the moral character or integrity we require of any professional to do the right thing when no one is looking. For all that has been said about Col Murphy one way or the other, the result of this case is a sad day for the military legal profession. While we are saved from having a person like this serve as a flag officer, we are not saved from a system that allowed this result in the first place.

For all of those former AF JAGs out there, breath a little deeper that you no longer have to deal with this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Anon 0855,

The bag is "wet" in the cliche.

Anonymous said...

Univ. of ten??? LOL to the max!!!

Anonymous said...

What's up with the AF JAG leadership? It’s a pretty small group but it keeps having the most deviate JAG's....They really need to make some changes to a system that allowed both Fiscus and Murphy to rise so high...And they weren't held to higher standard than other JAG's. A lowly captain would have been court-martialed for what they did....How much responsibility do other senior leaders have? They must have been close to both of them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1004 -- Murphy was court-martialed. Fiscus should have been court-martialed.

Anonymous said...

A No Punishment court-martial is hardly a stiff court-martial...But, at least when he applies at McDonald's he'll have to answer yes to the question of whether he's been convicted of any crimes....But, on the other hand, based on what we now know of his character,he'd proably just lie out it.

Anonymous said...

"probably just lie about it" Darn computer

Phil Cave said...

Touche Touissant, he did claim VN service if I recollect.

John O'Connor said...

And the Croix de Guerre if I recall correctly.

TC said...

I was just joking about him being eligible for the Jobs for JAGs.

I stop reading once more than one military convict posts.

I love you too.

I have a tendency to feel the same way when I see a shyster hypocrite post on a fine blog without adding to the discussion. You know what I mean jellybean?

Why don't you go back to your cave troll.

Cloudesley Shovell said...

J O'C--I will politely disagree with your contention that the average citizen lacks the qualifications to discern the difference between qualified and unqualified lawyers.

Licensing schemes exist only to protect incumbents in a profession from competition. That's the way it's always been. That's the way it always will be. Yes, there are certain professions where health and safety concerns justify gov't licensing. They are extremely few in number. (come on, licensing for hairbraiders, sign hangers, interior decorators, etc--give me a break.)

As far as lawyers are concerned--Every lawyer out there with a license is utterly incompetent to practice in every area of law except that in which he specializes. Yet, somehow, clients manage to find the lawyer they need to satisfy their particular requirements. The average citizen can figure out which lawyer to hire, depending on whether he has a tort case, needs a will, is involved in a commercial real estate transaction, needs criminal defense, or needs representation at a court-martial, or needs to find just the right guy to file a habeas petition because he's a civilian being held by military authority in Iraq. How does the citizen do that? By reputation and recommendation. Licensing schemes do little or nothing to ensure competency; licensing primarily serves as a barrier to entry for the benefit of those already on the inside.

That being said, Col Murphy got what he deserved--the gov't gets to make the rules for its military officers.

Yrs humbly,

Anonymous said...

One of the most important aspects of licensing in most professions is DISIPLINE. True there are a lot of crappy lawyers out there, but if there isn’t a system to discipline out-and-out reckless or dishonest lawyers the public would lose what little respect they have for lawyers.

True licensing probably isn’t a big deal for hairdressers, but for doctors, lawyers, and general contractors it’s necessary to have some governing body to strip the incompetent ones of their license. This serves to warn the public of the truly bad ones.

Would you want to go to a doctor who’s license had been suspended or revoked? Of course not, because everyone knows that he must be totally incompetent or a crook. It takes a while and a few people have to be scammed to discover that a lawyer is crooked. Without licensing a crappy lawyer or doctor or general contractor could screw over a bunch of people and then just move to another area and start all over again.

Soon to be 2nd Lt Murphy (or better yet, UO separated Murphy) must have screwed up pretty bad to have his license suspended. Do you think he would have been accepted into the AF JAG corp if they had known about that? I’m sure Mrs. Murphy will say that he had an outstanding career and that licensing would have unduly kept him out, but the fact is he is a liar and must have really screwed some client to have had his license suspended. And in the end he harmed AF JAG by rising so high and brazenly violating one of the most basic rules. He truly put “Service Before Self”

Anonymous said...

Unreal, to say the least. I am sick and tired of these JAG "officer" getting away with everything. You know damn well if it would have been and NCO that they would have been put under the jail. Number one he should have never had a security clearance. OPM needs to go back and get every SF 86 that he ever did and look at the back ground check that were done by DSS. What about any case that he was on as a JAG?? Will they get a retrial? Also records can be seen behind closed doors because the Judge at the Court Marital has the clearance to see them or they can be declassified. I am sure a Security Information File was completed on Murphy b/c a person cannot be processed for court martial when the hold a TS/SCI and that is in AFI 31-501. He would have also had to do an AF 2587 Security Termination briefing. Lying on a security investigation is enough to get another court martial or at least an Article 15. He must have the AFCAF in his back pocket or at least SAF Gates.

Just goes to show that if you are in the good ole boy network you can do anything and come out spotless. Why wasn't this on the news?? Hush just like the Major Jill Metzger case. Lie and you will get paid...and paid big.

Anonymous said...


You are truly a class act. Your contributions to the betterment of the military justice system are simply extraordinary. We all wait with baited breath for your next enlightening offering.