CALIFORNIA STATE BAR – KERN COUNTY PROSECUTOR FACES DISCIPLINE FOR FAKING DEFENDANT’S CONFESSION
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 17, 2016 – A Kern County prosecutor who falsified a confession, leading a court to drop all charges against an accused child molester, faces a one-year suspension of his law license for his misconduct.
The recommended suspension of Robert Alan Murray, 41, [#228691], goes into effect once it’s approved by the Supreme Court. In a Nov. 10 opinion, the State Bar Court Review Department increased a hearing judge’s recommendation to a one-year suspension from 30 days.
Murray added two lines to the transcript of a defendant’s statement to law enforcement to make it sound like he had confessed. He then gave the transcript to the public defender. Nine days later, and after the public defender confronted his client with the confession, Murray told the public defender he had made the alteration. Murray defended his actions by claiming he was playing a “joke” on the public defender. The superior court and the Court of Appeal found that Murray intentionally altered the statement to influence plea negotiations. The State Bar Review Department agreed and rejected Murray’s explanation.
“Murray’s behavior is wholly inappropriate and unbecoming of an experienced prosecutor, who is expected to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct and to act as a gatekeeper to the fair administration of justice,” State Bar Court Judge Richard A. Honn wrote.
Murray remained employed as a deputy district attorney in Kern County throughout the proceedings.
“While our limited case law did not support disbarment on these facts, a one-year suspension should send a strong signal that prosecutors will be held accountable for committing acts of misconduct, especially when it leads to such serious consequences,” said Melanie Lawrence, acting deputy chief trial counsel and assistant chief trial counsel.
The Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California recently adopted a proposed new ethics rule regarding the special duties of prosecutors in criminal cases, citing the need to hold prosecutors to high ethical standards. That rule is also pending Supreme Court approval.
Categorized in: Legal Procedures