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Michael R. Murphy


Michael R. Murphy

Michael Murphy
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
In office
August 14, 1995 – December 31, 2012
Appointed by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Monroe McKay
Succeeded by Carolyn McHugh
Personal details
Born (1947-08-06) August 6, 1947
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Alma mater Creighton University
University of Wyoming

Michael R. Murphy (born August 6, 1947) is a Senior United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.[1]

Early Life and Education

Murphy was born in Denver, CO in 1947. His family later moved to a small town in Wyoming. In 1955, he began playing little league baseball and discovered his lifelong hero, Roberto Clemente. At 13, his mother sent him to a boarding school in Kansas so he could get a good education.[2] He received his B.A. from Creighton University in 1969. In 1972, he earned his J.D. from the University of Wyoming.[2] He graduated with honors and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.

Legal career

After law school, he clerked for the Hon. David T. Lewis, U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit from 1972-1973. Upon completion of his clerkship, he entered private practice in Salt Lake City, Utah with Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough. Six months into his job, he was arguing a 10 week anti-trust case, which resulted in a favorable jury verdict.[2] Murphy stayed with the firm from 1973-1985. In 1986, he was appointed to a judgeship in the Third District Court of Utah.[3]

Judicial career

In 1986, Gov. Norman Bangerter appointed him a judge in Third District Court of Utah. In 1990, he became the presiding judge of that court, where he remained until his appointment to the Tenth Circuit in 1995.[3] During his tenure in the Third District Court of Utah, Judge Murphy helped to build a court complex adjacent to the Salt Lake City/County Building. He served on the Utah Judicial Council Task Force on Alternative Dispute Resolution and chaired the Judicial Oversight Committee in Child Support Guidelines in 1988 as well as chairing the State Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines. Additionally, he served on the Utah Sentencing Guidelines Task Force in 1991 and the Utah State Sentencing Commission.[2]

On July 25, 1995, Murphy was nominated by President William J. Clinton for a vacancy on the bench for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The seat was vacated by Monroe G. McKay. Murphy was confirmed by the senate on August 11, 1995, and received commission on August 14, 1995.[1] He took senior status on December 31, 2012.[4]

Awards, Committees, Commissions, Professional Associations and Memberships


Freedom of Information Award, Society of Professional Journalists 1989

Judge of the Year, Utah State Bar 1992

Utah Minority Bar Association Award, 1995

Creighton University Alumni Achievement Citation, 1997[3]

Committees and Commissions

Utah Sentencing Commission, 1993–1995 Member

Third District Committee on Court Reorganization, 1992–1995 Chair

Judicial Council Task Force on Alternative Dispute Resolution, 1986–1988 Member

Utah Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure, 1984–1995 Member

Salt Lake County Bar Association, 1989–1992 Member, Executive Committee

Legislative Advisory Committee on Child Support Guidelines Member, 1987–1995; Chair, 1993-1994[5]

Professional Associations and Memberships

Sutherland Inns of Court II, 1990–1991 President

Board of District Court Judges, 1989–1990 Member

American Bar Association, 1973–Present Member

Utah State Bar, 1973–Present Member

Wyoming State Bar Association, 1972–Present Member[5]

Selected Opinions and Cases Presided Over

Cases Presided Over

United States of America v. Timothy James McVeigh, 153 F.3d 1166 (10th Cir. 1998)

Murphy did not author this opinion but sat on the panel of judges who heard the appeal.[6] The Tenth District Court of Appeals upheld McVeigh's conviction and sentence. The full opinion can be found here:


Yes on Term Limits v. Savage, 550 F.3d 1023 (10th Cir. 2008)

Held: Oklahoma's ban on non-resident petition circulators violates the First Amendment. [7]

This case was significant because it allows citizens to seek help from non-resident workers to petition the government. Without this resource, many citizens would find it difficult to make change.[8]

Alto Eldorado Partnership v. County of Santa Fe, 634 F.3d 1170 (10th Cir. 2011)

Held: Property developer's takings claim was not ripe because developer had not utilized available state procedures to seek just compensation.[9]

United States v. McCane, 573 F.3d 1037 (10th Cir. 2009)

Held: The good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies to a search justified under the settled case law of a United States Court of Appeals, even if the search is rendered unconstitutional by a subsequent Supreme Court decision.[10]

In re Qwest Communications International, Inc., 450 F.3d 1179 (10th Cir. 2006)

Held: Corporation waived attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine, as to third-party civil litigants, by releasing privileged materials to federal agencies in the course of the agencies' investigation of the corporation.[11]

Prison Legal News v. Executive Office for United States Attorneys, 628 F.3d 1243 (10th Cir. 2011)

Held: The Government can invoke the Freedom of Information Act's personal privacy exemption even though it previously disclosed the records during a public trial.[12]

O'Connor v. Washburn University, 416 F.3d 1216 (10th Cir. 2005)

Held: Plaintiffs, a student and an employee of a public university, had standing to challenge an allegedly anti-Catholic statue displayed on the grounds of the university. The display did not violate the Establishment Clause of the FIrst Amendment.[13]


  1. ^ a b "United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit". Retrieved 2011-01-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d Funk, Marnie (April 1995). "Judicial Profiles: Profile of Michael R. Murphy". Utah Bar Journal 8 (4): 27–28. 
  3. ^ a b c "Judge Michael R. Murphy, U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals". Utah State Bar 2010 Summer Convention. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  4. ^ Judicial vacancies
  5. ^ a b "Thomson Legal Record: Michael R. Murphy". Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "United States of America v. Timothy James McVeigh". Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Yes on Term Limits v. Savage". Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Wall Stree Journal Praises "Yes on Term Limits v. Savage:" CCP Served as Co-Counsel". Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Alto Eldorado Partnership v. County of Santa Fe". Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "United States v. McCane". Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "In re Qwest Communications International, Inc.". Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "Prison Legal News v. Executive Office for United States Attorneys". Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "O'Connor v. Washburn University". Retrieved 19 December 2011. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Monroe McKay
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Succeeded by
Carolyn McHugh
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