Mass. court reprimands judge libeled by newspaper

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Massachusetts' top court has publicly reprimanded a judge who wrote threatening letters to the publisher of the Boston Herald after he won a $2 million libel judgment against the paper.

The Supreme Judicial Court's punishment for Judge Ernest Murphy is slightly less severe than the public censure and $25,000 fine recommended by the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct. The SJC did order Murphy to reimburse the commission for its costs.

The case began in 2002, after the Herald published a series of stories depicting Murphy as soft on crime. Several quoted Murphy as saying a young rape victim should "get over it."

Murphy won his lawsuit, then wrote threatening letters to the Herald publisher demanding payment.

Murphy agreed in August to step down from the bench, citing health problems brought on by the stress of the case.

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