Mr. Judiciary
                    Robert C. Murphy : Over three decades, he modernized Maryland's chaotic
                    court system.

                    Originally published Nov 1 2000

                    IN THE LAST half-century, no one matched the
                    contributions of Robert C. Murphy to Maryland's system of dispensing justice.
                    Judge Murphy, who died Monday at 74, was the father of Maryland's modern

                    Key to his success was a love of people. He always returned phone calls, even
                    to irate citizens. The Baltimore native proved popular with politicians, in part
                    because he relished the give-and-take of the legislative process and
                    buttonholing lawmakers. But his real strength came from his direct, honest
                    approach and his likability.

                    In the 1960s, he and the late Robert F. Sweeney ran the attorney general's
                    office, setting policy, arguing court cases themselves and dealing with
                    Annapolis politicians on civil rights issues. In 1967, he was picked to head the
                    newly created Court of Special Appeals, carving out a distinctive role for the
                    intermediate appeals panel.

                    Five years later, Judge Murphy was elevated to the No. 1 judicial job as chief
                    judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. That's when the Murphy magic truly

                    He helped turn a disjointed array of minor courts into a District Court system
                    with uniform procedures in courtrooms from Oakland to Snow Hill.

                    He set his sights on better judicial training, removing overt political favoritism
                    from the judicial-selection process and cracking down on judges' and lawyers'
                    misconduct. Today's efficient case-management system within the appeals
                    courts is a Murphy legacy.

                    Bob Murphy adored and venerated the law. He slept on an office couch three
                    nights a week in Annapolis to keep up with his workload. On other days, he
                    could be found in his Towson office, writing his own legal opinions. He wrote
                    more than 1,000 opinions in his nearly 25 years on the Court of Appeals.

                    He was a thoughtful scholar, but it was Judge Murphy's administrative skills
                    that won him the most praise. His contributions will loom large in the history of
                    Maryland's courts. He created a coherent and cohesive system of law that is
                    still a national model. He was, indeed, this state's Mr. Judiciary.

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