Michael R. Murphy

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Michael R. Murphy
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Assumed office
December 31, 2012
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
In office
August 14, 1995 – December 31, 2012
Appointed byBill Clinton
Preceded byMonroe G. McKay
Succeeded byCarolyn B. McHugh
Personal details
Michael R. Murphy

(1947-08-06) August 6, 1947 (age 71)
Denver, Colorado
EducationCreighton University (B.A.)
University of Wyoming College of Law (J.D.)

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

Early life and education[edit]

Murphy was born in Denver, Colorado 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 Bachelor of Arts degree from Creighton University in 1969. In 1972, he earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Wyoming College of Law.[2] He graduated with honors and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review.

Legal career[edit]

After law school, he clerked for Judge David T. Lewis of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit from 1972-73. 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 1973-85. In 1986, he was appointed to a judgeship of the Third District Court of Utah.[3]

Judicial career[edit]

In 1986, Governor Norman Bangerter appointed him a judge of 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, 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 Bill Clinton for a vacancy on the bench for the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The seat was vacated by Judge 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[edit]


  • 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[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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[edit]

Cases presided over[edit]

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

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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.[13]


  1. ^ a b "United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit". Archived from the original on 2010-12-26. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
  2. ^ a b c d Funk, Marnie (April 1995). "Judicial Profiles: Profile of Michael R. Murphy" (PDF). Utah Bar Journal. 8 (4): 27–28. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-17.
  3. ^ a b c "Judge Michael R. Murphy, U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals". Utah State Bar 2010 Summer Convention. Archived from the original on 17 May 2012. 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" (PDF). Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  10. ^ "United States v. McCane" (PDF). Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  11. ^ "In re Qwest Communications International, Inc" (PDF). Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  12. ^ "Prison Legal News v. Executive Office for United States Attorneys" (PDF). Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  13. ^ "O'Connor v. Washburn University". Retrieved 19 December 2011.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Monroe G. McKay
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Succeeded by
Carolyn B. McHugh