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On April 20, a homeless man collapsed in a Washington, D.C., court. Unfazed, presiding Judge Tim Murphy continued proceedings in other cases while the man yelled that he couldn’t breathe. The judge reportedly responded, “Well, don’t talk so much.” After being removed by U.S. marshals, the defendant complied: He died. A week later, Murphy expressed sadness over the death of Robert L. Waters Sr., but defended his decision to return him to his cell, blaming U.S. marshals who said that “Mr. Waters was fit for further proceedings.” Jude Murphy has temporarily stepped down and could not be reached for comment. In an April 27 statement, he said he was saddened “by any possible impression … that I was uncaring and indifferent.” Shortly after he was brought into court, Waters, 54, charged with drinking alcohol in public, collapsed in front of the defense table in the busy misdemeanor court. Judge Murphy told the man that if he stopped complaining, he might be able to breathe, The Washington Post reported, and marshals took him to a holding cell, where he died. “It does happen a lot,” said Murphy’s law clerk of defendants’ faking illness, “but unfortunately, this guy wasn’t lying.” Murphy, 71, has been on the D.C. bench for 35 years. Washington, D.C., Superior Court Chief Judge Rufus G. King III has reportedly appointed a committee to investigate, saying that the judge may not return. Marie-Ann Sennett, executive director of D.C. Prisoner Legal Services, said that marshals’ procedures should be reviewed: “Since they are in charge of the holding cells, they should be involved.” Drew Wade, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, didn’t return calls. Samuel F. Harahan, executive director of Washington’s Center for Court Excellence, said Murphy is respected in Washington. “I’m not condoning the impersonal repartee; it was ghastly,” said Harahan. “But he is a judge very much of military bearing, and he doesn’t brook a whole lot of delay.”

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