14 June 2007

Colonel Murphy

On 11 June, Spook86, at the blog In From the Cold, reported on the charges preferred against Colonel Michael D. Murphy, a brigadier general select and former commander of the Air Force Legal Operations Agency. The reported charges are as follows:

CHARGE I: Violation of UCMJ, Article 133

Specification 1: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, between on or about 31 May 2002 and on or about 30 November 2006, wrongfully and dishonorably compete for promotion within the Judge Advocate General's Corps knowing he did not possess the required qualifications of a Judge Advocate, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 2: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, at or near Washington D.C., between on or about 31 May 2002 and on or about 30 January 2005, wrongfully and dishonorably accept the position and perform duties as General Counsel for the White House Military Office and provide legal advice without a license, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 3: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, at or near Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, between on or about 31 January 2005 and on or about 11 July 2005, wrongfully and dishonorably accept the position and perform duties as Commandant of the Air Force Judge Advocate General's School knowing he did not possess the required qualifications of a Judge Advocate, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 4: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did at or near Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, between on or about 12 July 2005 and on or about 21 September 2006, wrongfully and dishonorably accept the position and perform duties as Staff Judge Advocate for Pacific Air Force and provide legal advice without a license, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 5: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, between on or about 22 October 2006 and on or about 30 November 2006, wrongfully and dishonorably accept the position and perform duties as Commander of Air Force Legal Operations Agency knowing he did not possess the required qualifications of a Judge Advocate, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 6: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within North America, between on or about 31 May 2002 and on or about 30 November 2006, wrongfully and dishonorably present himself publicly as a United States Air Force Judge Advocate while performing trial advocacy training knowing he did not possess the required qualifications of a Judge Advocate, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 7: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, between on or about 31 May 2002 and on or about 30 November 2006, wrongfully and dishonorably file travel vouchers for expenses to which he was not entitled, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 8: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 November 2006, wrongfully and dishonorably fail to notify Headquarters United States Air Force Professional Development Division of the termination of his license to practice law in the state of Louisiana, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 9: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 November 2006, wrongfully and dishonorably fail to notify Headquarters United States Air Force Professional Development Division of the termination of his license to practice law in the state of Texas, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Specification 10: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 November 2006, wrongfully and dishonorably fail to notify Headquarters United States Air Force Professional Development Division of the termination of his license to practice law in the United States Fifth Federal Circuit, which was conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

CHARGE II: Violation of UCMJ, Article 121

Specification 1: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, at or near Washington D.C., on divers occasions between on or about 31 May 2002 and on or about 31 January 2005, steal money, military property, of a value of more than $500, the property of the United States Air Force.

Specification 2: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, at or near Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, between on or about 5 June 2005 and on or about 15 June 2005, steal money, military property, of a value of more than $500, the property of the United States Air Force.

Specification 3: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, at or near Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, between on or about 11 August 2005 and on or about 18 August 2005, steal money, military property, of a value of more than $500, the property of the United States Air Force.

CHARGE III: Violation of UCMJ, Article 107

Specification 1: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, at or near Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, between on or about 21 August 2006 and on or about 30 November 2006, with intent to deceive, make an official statement in the Judge Advocate General's FLITE database, to wit: that he was licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Texas, which statement was false in that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY was not then licensed to practice law in Louisiana and Texas, and was then known by the said COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY to be so false.

Specification 2: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, at or near Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, on or about 5 August 2005, with intent to deceive, make an official statement to Major General David A. Deptula, to wit: when requesting permission to teach an advocacy course at Louisiana State University School of Law, he stated "this keeps me current and fulfills my continuing legal education requirements" or words to that effect, which statement was false in that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY was not then licensed to practice law and had no continuing legal education requirements, and was then known by the said COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY to be so false.

Charge IV: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 92

Specification 1: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., who knew or should have known of his duties at or near Washington D.C., from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 January 2005, on divers occasions, was derelict in the performance of those duties in that he willfully failed to refrain from using his Blanket Travel Orders to engage in unofficial travel, as it was his duty to do.

Specification 2: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 November 2006, fail to obey a lawful general regulation, to wit: paragraph 2.1, Air Force Instruction 51-103, dated 1 March 1996, superseded by Air Force Instruction 51-103, dated 7 December 2004, by wrongfully failing to maintain compliance with the licensing requirements of a Federal court or the highest court of a U.S. state, territory or the District of Columbia such that he would then be currently eligible to engage in the active practice of law.

Specification 3: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 November 2006, fail to obey a lawful general regulation, to wit: paragraph 2.2, Air Force Instruction 51-103, dated 1 March 1996, superseded by Air Force Instruction 51-103, dated 7 December 2004, by wrongfully failing to notify Headquarters United States Air Force Professional Development Division of the termination of his license to practice law in the state of Louisiana.

Specification 4: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 November 2006, fail to obey a lawful general regulation, to wit: paragraph 2.2, Air Force Instruction 51-103, dated 1 March 1996, superseded by Air Force Instruction 51-103, dated 7 December 2004, by wrongfully failing to notify Headquarters United States Air Force Professional Development Division of the termination of his license to practice law in the state of Texas.

Specification 5: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, within the United States, from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 November 2006, fail to obey a lawful general regulation, to wit: paragraph 2.2, Air Force Instruction 51-103, dated 1 March 1996, superseded by Air Force Instruction 51-103, dated 7 December 2004, by wrongfully failing to notify Headquarters United States Air Force Professional Development Division of the termination of his license to practice law in the United States Fifth Federal Circuit.

Specification 6: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., who knew or should have known of his duties within the United States, from about 31 May 2002 to about 30 November 2006, on divers occasions, was derelict in the performance of those duties in that he willfully failed to refrain from using his Government Travel Card for other than official travel related expenses, as it was his duty to do.

Charge V: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 86

Specification: In that COLONEL MICHAEL D. MURPHY, United States Air Force, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C., did, on or about 5 August 2006, without authority, absent himself from his place of duty at which he was required to be, to wit: Headquarters Pacific Air Force Judge Advocate's office, located at 25 E. Street, Suite A-314, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and did remain so absent until on or about 13 August 2006.

The charges have been the subject of much speculation by the military justice community because it appeared the statute of limitations would make it impossible to charge him with any false statements he may have made when he entered the Air Force. Specification 1 of Charge I is intriguing -- competing for promotion to brigadier general when he knew he was not qualified for the job. Some JAG colonel, perhaps now retired, would have been promoted to brigadier general had not Colonel Murphy competed for the job.

Also interesting is specification 2 of Charge III. It alleges that he made a false official statement to Major General Deptula, one of the architects of the air campaign during the 1991 Gulf War, that by giving him permission to teach an advocacy course at LSU, Col Murphy would be able to keep current on his continuing legal education requirements to maintain the bar membership he is now alleged not to have had.

Spook86 opines that Col Murphy's "best defense may be an indictment of past Air Force procedures of certifying the professional credentials of its legal officers." I think that would be very difficult to pull off. If Col Murphy were to request officer members on the court, they would have to be senior colonels or generals. I just can't see them buying off on it. No matter what others think of them, I am sure the colonels and generals believe themselves to be men of honor. If they believe Col Murphy did what he is alleged to have done, they would be looking at an officer who hoped to join the generals' club after living a lie for more than 20 years.

Another interesting question is who will preside over the court-martial if there is one. In the past, the Air Force has been quick to farm courts-martial of JAG personnel to the Army. And I understand that at the time Col Murphy was removed from command, all the Air Force trial judges were in his chain of command.

4 comments:

bill cassara said...

I suspect the MJ and even some members of the panel will come from a sister service. This should be interesting to watch, but is in reality quite tragic.

BKT said...

This pretty much high lights both that which is good and that which is bad in the military justice arena.

On the good side, its absolutely the right thing that Col Murphy be courted in a case like this. Its good to see that at some point, even senior leaders arn't above the law.

On the bad side, can you say "over charing" - there, I knew you could. Apparently there are about 14 ways to say "he didn't have a license...

I'm glad they charged him, but I would really rather have seen a more reasonable charge sheet.

Anonymous said...

I agree. But, I can't help but wonder how many times, as an SJA, COL Murphy sanctioned the same thing. Not that two wrongs make a right, but there is a certain irony, y'know?

Vamoots said...

The charges here seem awfully multiplicious to me, though I don't doubt they will make enough of them stick to secure a conviction.

What is less clear to me is how the Air Force can defend in disparity between sending Col Murphy to a General Court-Martial (which, to the laypersons in the audience, will mean he is a convicted felon if he loses), while it let MG Thomas Fiscus off with an Article 15. Ah well . . .