Murphy v. The Herald, the War Continues

It's the libel case that keeps on giving. After the Boston Herald was whacked with a $2.1 million Suffolk County jury verdict for Judge Ernest Murphy in February, today's news is that the paper is looking to overturn that decision, citing Murphy's efforts to intimidate it into giving up its right to appeal.

One notable difference between today's Herald story and Globe story is that the Globe was able to talk to Murphy attorney Howard Cooper while the Herald said Cooper could not be reached for comment. Despite being adversaries in the courtroom, let's hope that Cooper and the Herald haven't decided to snub each other.

The case itself was emotional, rugged, and bruising. Most observers started out believing Murphy faced a serious uphill battle largely because as a public figure, he would have to prove the Herald acted with malice. But as the trial progressed, one could see the momentum moving the plaintiff's way. And once the jury was out for five days, it was clear that Murphy was going to be getting some award.

I don't know that the letters the Herald said it received from Murphy should have any impact on the original outcome. And I'm no expert in the behind-the-scenes machinations that surround ligitation negotiation. But it sure seems inappropriate for a judge to be strong-arming the defendants in that fashion. (If nothing else, these kinds of communication are better handled in off-the-record chats, as opposed to paper trail-creating missives.)

One thing is certain. This fight is not over.
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