Former deputy’s ironic new career

November 30, 2011


The central figure in an illegal raid by San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies that violated the rights of a county resident is now a local defense attorney, handling cases for indigents and getting paid by the county public defender’s office.

Darren Christopher Murphy, in his first public comment since the recorded 2008 raid at the home of Matt Hart, confirmed Tuesday he is getting defense cases assigned to him by Superior Court Judge Michael Duffy. Murphy retired from the sheriff’s department last year and started a law practice.

Murphy was a career deputy with a law degree when he led a group of heavily-armed deputies onto Hart’s property after responding to a “shots fired” call. Finding Hart target-shooting — a lawful activity in the rural area — the deputies handcuffed him in his yard and crashed into his home, without a warrant.

The ensuing events — spanning more than three hours — were captured by the deputies’ own video and audio recorders and provided a chilling and indisputable account of their behavior. Afterwards, Murphy and the others could clearly be heard discussing at length possible justifications for their entry into Hart’s two-plus acre property, then into his house, and then into his locked gun safe, where they found and confiscated an assortment of valuable, legally-registered firearms.

The deputies, along with a detective, then pondered possible criminal charges against Hart in order to explain their actions.

Hart was charged with a variety of felonies and misdemeanors, all eventually dismissed except for “disturbing the peace.” Facing prosecutors’ threats of additional felony charges, Hart agreed not to sue the county, and his confiscated guns were eventually returned — with one gun missing its receiver.

A 22-minute video report entitled “The Hart Locker” was produced by in July 2010 after copies of the sheriff’s recording were obtained. The video went viral with more than 2.7 million views worldwide. However, subsequent reaction to the deputies’ deeds by officials in San Luis Obispo County was negligible.

During a brief telephone interview, Murphy called the incident “old news” and also claimed for the first time that he felt threatened by homeowner Hart because “I thought the man tried to shoot at me.”

He also said, “I did what I thought was right at the time.”

Murphy acknowledged the search’s illegality: “The judge (Superior Court Judge Dodie A. Harman) ruled that evidence was taken in violation of (Hart’s) rights. In retrospect, should I have gotten a warrant? Certainly.”

He was critical of’s reporting, calling it “a bit slanted, and (it) left out a lot of very relevant information.” Murphy said the video report suggested that he “just trampled over the man’s rights, that it was some kind of conspiracy, when in fact we step by step tried to rationalize everything we did.”

The new defender of the downtrodden then added, “Hart had an opportunity to sue us, to have his day in court, but he chose instead to take it to the court of public opinion.”

Murphy penned a letter in the Dec. 2010 issue of Playboy magazine, noting that “when the citizenry uses tools intended to protect all parties to wrongfully attack officers, the incentive to put your ass on the line is greatly diminished.”

He left the sheriff’s department shortly after that letter was published.

San Luis Obispo attorney Lou Koory, whose interview was featured in “The Hart Locker,” said that Murphy “now has an ethical duty to zealously defend the rights of the accused, whatever his philosophy. And he’ll be tested soon enough.”


  1. oto says:

    1. The Commission on Judicial Performance. If you can’t find it, call them.
    2. Judge Duffy.

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. Jesus Child says:

    I have known Mr. Murphy for a long time and he was and is always interested in the citizens safety. He has integrity. He has always tried to get people he thought were bad for the community off the streets. He is versatile enough to become a defense lawyer and protect the rights of all, including the guilty. May God bless him in all his endeavors.

    (-58) 68 Total Votes - 5 up - 63 down
    • cheseburger says:

      Hey Jesus Child, you get the green from me, all these posters have been brain washed by our local media, I know Daren and I would sure rather have him have my back then the two crazy cops in Santa Maria, (Hell let’s just shoot them all and let got sort them out, he did.

      (-27) 33 Total Votes - 3 up - 30 down
  3. CA Native says:

    He’ll fit right in with our corrupt ‘justice’ system.

    (44) 50 Total Votes - 47 up - 3 down
  4. calvertworthington says:

    I’m thinking hypocrite.

    (29) 39 Total Votes - 34 up - 5 down
  5. cheseburger says:

    When Darren Murphy patrolled the streets of Avila beach in the nineties, he was a top notch cop with his gun kept in his holster and his heart behind his badge.

    This guy arrested for illegal guns, lol, the video set up, keep in mine the guy had been warned not to shoot on his property four or more times.

    He’s dam lucky a cop from L.A. didn’t show up and blow off one of his legs for reaching for that cell phone holster.

    Bottom line I like Darren and he got set up! Hit the red I don’t care, cop haters can protect themselves with ten rounds. Wait until the ugly side of town starts happening, do you even have a clue of what it’s like elsewhere?

    (-51) 85 Total Votes - 17 up - 68 down
    • choprzrul says:

      Let’s shred the Constitution so that poor Darren isn’t inconvenienced.

      Remember, the founders penned the Bill of Rights as a protection against government intrusion into our civil rights. Murphy epitomizes government intrusion into civil rights.

      Let the 1983 suit begin.


      (31) 53 Total Votes - 42 up - 11 down
      • cheseburger says:

        I don’t like it either but it’s their boat, want
        to fish?

        (-8) 10 Total Votes - 1 up - 9 down
      • cheseburger says:

        Bush shredded the good old constitution with his assault weapons ban and ten round clip law,
        Homeland security act, right up our asses, literally, they can look any where they want.
        You could get the kind of dirt they got on Darren if you provoked any cop enough.

        (-21) 29 Total Votes - 4 up - 25 down
    • cheseburger says:

      Maybe he’s lucky this didn’t happen in Santa Maria, now do you have a clue he didn’t shoot the guy and if he did he would not of been charged with anything the guy reached for a god dam holster, I would of shot him in the leg.

      (-7) 13 Total Votes - 3 up - 10 down
  6. bobfromsanluis says:

    I have to wonder if when a public defender is offered up to someone who has been arrested, if the person has any say in which public defender they get to have represent them. If they have a choice of public defenders, would they be able to avail themselves of the records of the public defenders? Any chance of learning the backgrounds of the public defenders before deciding to have one represent you in court? I would think that many people who were offered the services of Mr. Murphy and found out about his past wouldn’t feel more comfortable representing themselves instead; I’m sure that I would.

    (13) 21 Total Votes - 17 up - 4 down
    • Robert1 says:

      Typically the PD is not the creme of the crop as lawyers go.

      (12) 26 Total Votes - 19 up - 7 down

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