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BOSTON �— The Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct has scheduled a Jan. 8 hearing about its recommendation to publicly reprimand state court Judge Ernest B. Murphy for improper letters to Boston Herald publisher Patrick J. Purcell concerning Murphy’s libel lawsuit against the newspaper. Massachusetts Superior Court judge Murphy used court stationary for one of the February and March 2005 letters, which demanded that Purcell settle the lawsuit. After a jury awarded Murphy $2.09 million in February 2005, Murphy’s March 2005 letter claimed that Purcell had “ZERO” chance of winning an appeal. Murphy sued the Herald for stories that printed his alleged comments that a teenage rape victim should “get over it.” Herald stories said “several courthouse sources” heard Murphy make the statement. Murphy has said that negative press coverage and public criticism spurred by the Herald stories caused significant stress for him and his family. Murphy’s verdict was trimmed to $2.01 million, but the Herald ultimately paid $3.4 million after Murphy prevailed on appeal in May 2007. In his Nov. 21 report, commission hearing officer Peter Kilborn recommended that Murphy also reimburse the commission’s hearing costs. After the Jan. 8 hearing, which will be held at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, the commission has 90 days to send its recommendations and the hearing officer’s recommendations to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which makes the final ruling. In re: Ernest B. Murphy, No. OE-0119 (Mass.)

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