Wendy Murphy: Self-Aggrandizing Bitchface TV Lawyer

OK. Larry King Live last night featured Kirk Bloodsworth, who was exonerated of rape/murder charges, after 9 years in prison, when a DNA test didn’t match. He now does foundation work to provide indigent inmates access to DNA testing.

Bloodsworth tells his story. So far, so good. Then Larry brings on the panel of experts. Number one is Boston prosecutor and talking-head Wendy Murphy, who has some half-intelligible rant about what’s wrong with DNA testing and how it will make it impossible to convict anybody of anything. Wendy’s presentation:

  1. Say, “I don’t want to retry the case.”
  2. Proceed to pop out the claws and start swiping crazily at Bloodsworth about some point of evidence that suggested he still could have been at the crime scene, thereby doing exactly that.

The other 2 panelists (one a forensic examiner) immediately reacted with extreme indignation. I forget the adjective they used on Murphy, but it was something like “shameless.”

I understand prosecuting attorneys aren’t exactly overjoyed about having their verdicts overturned after the fact. But what possible purpose could Murphy have had to go all ballistic on this guy? Other than to make an ugly impression on the TV audience and slap 3 people around in a debate?

Background on the case in question

She’s not quite as bad as Nancy Grace but she’s pretty bad.

I don’t understand why a prosecutor would be upset about an innocent person being let go. Defense attorneys get rapped as being “unethical” but I can’t see anything more unethical than trying to keep someone you KNOW is innocent in prison. Nonsensical objections about “second guessing” juries or that convictions should be left to stand just because are so devoid of morality, logic and compassion that it borders on depravity.

Sounds destined to be Attorney General one day in the tradition of Janet Waco and John Asshole.

How can you say that about a man with the voice that he has? I’ll have you know that he sings like an angel?

Have you no shame at all Liberal?

Yeah, it’s completely unfathomable to me.

And lawmakers are sometimes complicit in this sort of thing. I remember we had a discussion on these boards a year or so ago (can’t find it now) about a proposed law in Florida that put a very strict time limit on appealing cases through DNA evidence. As far as i could tell at the time, the only possible reason for this law was to prevent DAs from having to admit that they fucked up. The sort of callousness that could condemn an innocent person to prison based on a prosecutor’s ego is just unbelievable.

I’m not sure whether that Florida law was ever passed. I don’t remember seeing anything about it since.



Maybe not so unfathomable if you have had much contact with professional, full time, career prosecutors. They can, and fortunately only a small fraction do, develop a “White Knight Syndrom,” where they become persuaded of their own infallibly and start to see criminal trials as things where, in the supposed words of Vince Lombardi, winning is the only thing. The syndrome is one of the occupational hazards of being a career prosecutor.

The mind set is that the government must always win. If it doesn’t it is because of some underhanded dishonesty by the defendant (or more often by defendant’s lawyer), bloody mindedness on the part of the trial judge or a stupid jury. This is precisely the attitude that leads prosecutors to think that they are justified in withholding exculpatory evidence, resisting post conviction relief motions no matter what the grounds, and in extreme cases secretly send police and tax authorities to sniff around defense counsels and judges in hopes of turning up some dirt that will eliminate that particular impediment to the triumph of Right and Justice.

All I’ve see of Ms Murphy is the commercials for her show but from that little exposure she sure come off as the sort of prosecutor, or ex-prosecutor, that thinks prima facie, the any evidence standard to get a case to the jury. and beyond reasonable doubt, the standard for conviction, are the same thing and who will not be satisfied until the defendant is obligated to prove his own innocence. For some of these people it is all about their batting average and never recognizing that our system of adversarial trials can never do anything more than approximate justice.

I trust that the show will be rigged so that she seldom has to confront a real adversary on a level playing field. That would be way to tedious and taxing for the TV audience.

I can almost hear the promo: “Coming up next: Wendy Murphy in Bitchface TV Lawyer.”

Neither the law nor television entertainment thrive on uncertainty. When you combine the two, this is what you get: sports talk radio with the death penalty.