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BOSTON — In his judicial conduct hearing, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Ernest B. Murphy defended his letters demanding money from Boston Herald publisher Patrick J. Purcell as his desperate attempt to settle the case. “I was constantly seeking to settle the case, I was desperate to settle the case,” Murphy said in the October 15 Commission on Judicial Conduct hearing. Murphy, who received a $2.09 million verdict in a libel case against the Herald — later reduced to $2.01 million — faces willful misconduct charges for using Suffolk Superior Court letterhead for the letters to Purcell. In a February 2005 letter, Murphy proposed that Purcell bring a $3.26 million cashiers check to a meeting with him. In March 2005, Murphy wrote that the Herald had “zero chance of reversing my jury verdict on appeal.” Murphy said his family was suffering from the negative press coverage about him. Murphy noted that Herald stories kept rehashing the comments that libeled him and that he wanted to quickly end the dispute instead of waiting for its appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. In May 2007, the state Supreme Court upheld the verdict against the Herald and ruled that the newspaper and reporter David Wedge defamed Murphy with actual malice. Murphy was widely disparaged for his alleged comments, which the Herald attributed to “several courthouse sources,” that a teenage rape victim should “get over it.”

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