Mary H. Murguia

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Mary Murguia
Judge Mary Murguia.jpg
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Assumed office
January 4, 2011
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byMichael Daly Hawkins
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona
In office
October 13, 2000 – January 4, 2011
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded byDiane Humetewa
Personal details
Born (1960-09-06) September 6, 1960 (age 59)
Kansas City, Kansas, U.S.
RelativesJanet Murguía (sister)
Carlos Murguia (brother)
EducationUniversity of Kansas, Lawrence (BA, BS, JD)

Mary Helen Murguia (born September 6, 1960) is a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Early life and education[edit]

Murguia is one of seven children of Alfred and Amalia Murguia, who emigrated from Mexico in 1950.[1] She was born in 1960 in Kansas City, Kansas.[2] Murguia was raised in the Kansas City community of Argentine.[1]

Murguia earned two bachelor's degrees (a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science) from the University of Kansas in 1982. She then earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas Law School in 1985.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Murguia served as an assistant district attorney of Wyandotte County, Kansas, from 1985 until 1990.[2] From 1990 until 2000, Murguia served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona, and concurrently served in the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys from 1998 until 2000.[2] She was counsel to the director's staff from 1998 until 1999, and the principal deputy director in 1999. She was a director from 1999 until 2000.[2]

Federal judicial service[edit]

On July 21, 2000, President Clinton nominated Murguia to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Arizona that was created by 113 Stat. 1501.[2] The United States Senate confirmed Murguia on October 3, 2000, and she received her commission on October 13, 2000.[2]

On March 25, 2010, President Obama nominated Murguia to a fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that was created by the decision by Judge Michael Daly Hawkins to assume senior status.[3] On December 22, 2010, she was confirmed by the United States Senate by a vote of 89–0.[4] On January 4, 2011, she received her commission and took the oath of office.[5]

She had been suggested as a potential nominee to the Supreme Court in Obama's second term.[6]

Elton Simpson case[edit]

On March 14, 2011, Murguia acquitted Elton Simpson of making a false statement to federal agents involving terrorism, and released him on probation with a minor fine for lesser charges.[7] Simpson had allegedly lied to FBI agents about his intent to travel to Somalia to join up with terrorist groups to kill non-Muslims, but Murguia declined to enhance his sentence based on the government's evidence. Four years later, Simpson was one of two terrorists who attacked a free speech event in Texas, injuring an unarmed security guard and being killed in the process. Evidence indicated that after Murguia released him, Simpson became involved with the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, who immediately after the attack claimed Simpson was a "soldier for the caliphate".[8]

Melendres v. Arpaio[edit]

Murguia recused herself from the federal racial profiling case against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in February 2009. Arpaio's attorneys alleged Murguria had, "...a natural, personal bias in favor of the Plaintiffs," based upon her sister's leadership of National Council of La Raza, which has been highly critical of Arpaio.[9]

The Melendres case was reassigned. In May 2013, Judge Murray Snow ruled that Arpaio had indeed engaged in racial profiling. In 2014, Snow found Arpaio had violated court orders addressing cessation of racial profiling, and began proceedings to hold Arpaio in contempt of court. Arpaio has also accused Snow of bias, and initiated previously-secret investigations into the alleged bias.[10]


Murguia's twin sister is noted civil rights leader Janet Murguía, while her older brother, Carlos Murguia was a United States district judge.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Manny Lopez, Raising the Bar, Kansas City Business Journal (February 11, 2001).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Murguia, Mary Helen – Federal Judicial Center".
  3. ^ "Former DOJ Official Picked for 9th Circuit". Legal Times. 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  4. ^ U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress – 2nd Session, Vote Number 299: Confirmation Mary Helen Murgia, (December 22, 2010).
  5. ^ "Court's Newest Judge Takes Oath of Office". US Courts for the Ninth Circuit Announcements. January 5, 2011.
  6. ^ Greg, Stohr (November 8, 2012). "Obama's Victory Creates New Chance to Mold U.S. Supreme Court". Bloomberg. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  7. ^ Volokh, Eugene (May 4, 2015). "Why Elton Simpson, one of the Texas shooters, had been acquitted of an earlier terrorism-related offense". Washington Post.
  8. ^ Shane, Scott (May 5, 2015). "Texas Attacker Left Trail of Extremist Ideas on Twitter". New York Times.
  9. ^ Lemons, Stephen. "Joe Arpaio Scores: Judge Mary Murguia Recuses Self From Racial Profiling Lawsuit Against Joe Arpaio". Phoenix New Times. Village Voice Media. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  10. ^ Kiefer, Michael. "Murray Snow: The man judging Sheriff Joe". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  11. ^ "106 Senate Hearings". From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access. Archived from the original on March 10, 2012.


Legal offices
New seat Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona
Succeeded by
Diane Humetewa
Preceded by
Michael Daly Hawkins
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit