Judge Murphy receives national distinguished service award


legal news photo by cynthia price

by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Court of Appeals (COA) Judge William B. Murphy, who finshed six years as Chief Judge last January, is well-known for his above-and-beyond service on the national scene, and he now has a beautiful pewter award to remind him how much that is valued.

On Oct. 9, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) gave him its Distinguished Service Award for “significant contributions to the justice system” and acting in support of the organization’s mission.

The NCSC is a 44-year-old private nonprofit dedicated to promoting the rule of law and improving the administration of justice in the state courts, founded at the behest of former chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Warren Burger.

As reported in these pages, Judge Murphy will soon become the Chair of the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal; he became Chair-Elect this year. He also serves on the executive committe of NCSC.

“Judge Murphy has built a national reputation as an innovator in court services. He has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the way he administers the finances, case management, and work assignments of his court.” stated NCSC President Mary C. McQueen.

In his remarks on giving the award at the NCSC annual meeting in northern New Jersey, Judge Gary W. Lynch of the Missouri Court of Appeals said of Judge Murphy, “Throughout his career he has been an outstanding leader, always thoughtful, hardworking and prepared. In all that he undertakes, Judge Murphy demonstrates exceptional ex-

pertise and the highest ethical standards. He is always willing to go the extra mile and help others. His work... in Michigan has served as a model for the efforts in other states and thus his influence has been felt not only there but nationwide.”

In return, Judge Murphy comments, “I was frankly honored to receive it. As I said at the award presentation, it reflects on my colleagues and our staff of 180 who really worked side by side with me.  I’m the face of that but I really share it with my colleagues.”

His illustrious career has included serving on the Open Justice Commission and the Michigan Justice Project, lecturing for the Michigan Judicial Institute and, as an adjunct professor, for WMU-Cooley Law School, among many other worthwhile involvements. He recently led a time standards study for the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal, and was instrumental in writing and producing “The Role of State Intermediate Appellate Courts: Principles for Adapting to Change” for that organization in 2012. In a report, the NCSC previously commended Judge Murphy for his work on “reengineering” the internal business operations of the COA while Chief Judge.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Judge Murphy is now co-chairing a countrywide search for projects around the country as a follow-up to the time standards report. “For the benefit of the appellate, I and my co-chair Justice Mark Martin are looking for innovative practices and approaches not only in courts of appeal but in the courts of highest review,” Murphy says.

He observes that the NCSC national conference, where he received the award, was wonderful. “There’s always a social aspect to the conference, and going in to New York City is always fun. We had a dinner cruise the last night where we went right up to the Statue of Liberty, with all the city lights. We also went over to the 9/11 Museum, and that was really very moving,” he commented

If recommendations made by the State Bar Representative Assembly are implemented and the age limitations for judges are lifted, Judge Murphy does not rule out running for another term. “They say 70 is the new 50,” he said, smiling.