The wheels turned far too slowly to deliver justice for Albert S. “Pat” Murdoch, former presiding criminal judge of the 2nd Judicial District.
Last week, more than two and a half years after he was arrested and charged with raping a prostitute, prosecutors in Santa Fe have confirmed they will not press charges. To be clear: that’s not two and a half years to acquit or convict. It’s two and a half years to decide not to press charges.
That’s a grave disservice to Murdoch, his alleged victim, the public and the justice system itself. profile the July 2011 case was – a criminal judge being charged with forcing a prostitute, whom he had allegedly paid on other occasions, to have oral sex – it’s especially concerning why it took the Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office so long to decide the evidence was insufficient to move forward. (The DA’s Office in Bernalillo County had asked the Santa Fe DA to take the case because of potential conflict of interest.)
Police said in 2011 they suspected the woman was trying to extort Murdoch. However, no extortion charges materialized and the woman never reported being assaulted.
The ex-jurist has always maintained his innocence. The scandal prompted him to retire from the bench after 26 years, agree not to hold a New Mexico judicial office or serve as a judge pro tem. His decision was the right one, but he didn’t deserve to have criminal charges hanging over him for more than two years.
It is a sad ending to a long career, made sadder by its unnecessary delay.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.