Former deputy’s ironic new career

November 30, 2011

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

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 KCCN.tv 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 KCCN.tv’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.”


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choprzrul

Kudos to Mr. Blackburn for emulating the finest standards of journalistic professionalism. This type of material and work is exactly what the founding fathers had in mind when they penned the protections extended to the press. Mr Hart’s civil rights were trampled upon that day and I feel he deserves his pound of flesh.


Sheriff Parkinson was asked about this incident at one of his ‘townhall meetings’ back in the late spring. He sidestepped any responsibility to pursue this further and has chosen to sweep it under the rug. The law has been broken and the county’s highest law enforcement official chooses to look the other way.


For your review, California Civil Code 52.3:


“No governmental authority, or agent of a governmental

authority, or person acting on behalf of a governmental authority,

shall engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement

officers that deprives any person of rights, privileges, or

immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the

United States or by the Constitution or laws of California.”


The only benefits that Mr. Murphy should be enjoying from the public treasury should be delivered via the penal system of this state.


social

Perhaps Matt Hart could hire him to get back the guns that Murphy and the local Crooked Sheriffs department took from him illegally!!!


standup

I’d like to know who the lame DA was that threatened him with additional felony charges if he sued. That DA should be reported to the the state bar for misconduct. Totally malicious prosecution if they had followed through. The whole system is corrupt from judges down to the street punks who wear badges (well most of them). There are a few gems in our forces but that is very few. Isn’t Duffy the husband of Jacky Duffy who signed all the bogus canned warrants for the marijuana raids? The same affidavits provided by special agent Dickel that failed to look into the legal documents of these collectives? Yea, I thought so. Corruption at its finest.


Cindy

Despite charges being dropped by the DA in most of the mobile medical marijuana cases, these victims didn’t fight back or utilize the legal recourse available to them. They DID NOT (at least not as of yet) demand that these rogue LEO be held accountable for breaking into their homes, holding them at gun point, ransacking their personal possessions, terrorizing their children, elderly parents and pets and then falsely arresting them. Apparently, once the charges were dropped, these pot heads did what typical pot heads do, they decided that they just wanted to be left alone. If victims allow this kind of egregious behavior to go unpunished without making an example of the perp’s, then I hate to say it but they “almost” deserve what they get. The victims were the only people who could demand accountability and restitution in a public arena. The only thing the rest of us can do is grant it to them by means of a jury verdict and I have no doubt a jury would have been applauded at the behavior of the ATF.


I know it can be a difficult task to exercise our rights but I think it’s much harder to do nothing and “doing nothing” is exactly what they count on. Looks like “Darth Veda” and his AK47 had a free party.


Cindy

Oppps, sorry ATF, I meant the NTF…


jms3211

Oh contraire, I believe there are 2 suits that I am aware of and one is over 2m.


standup

Now Cindy, you have completely jumped off the conclusion bus and fallen into the river of not knowing the facts. Charges have not been dropped in any of the cases according to one of the doobie dozen. Charges were rejected against three of them. Property has been returned to two of those three. Financial claims have been made according to the six month statute of limitations from the date of the arrests so the grounds are set if any of them wish to pursue civil lawsuits. They have two years from that date to file. The majority of them are waiting until their criminal phases are over before they decide how they want to proceed which is the logical chain of events. So considering the above is fact, you may want to retract your accusatory manner in which you attacked these folks. Several of them go before Judge La Barbara in Dec. 12th hoping to have their charges dismissed. If you look at the cartoon in New Times from a couple of weeks back, “Nothing Comic About It”, it pretty much spells out the whole deal up to date.


Cindy

OKIE DOKIE standup. I have no reason to doubt what you say. I have not spoke with any of the “doobie dozen” in many months. I have inquired twice about these cases (the last time being LAST NIGHT!) of a person who should have known what they were talking about when they replied to my question’s about this case. They said exactly what I said, “they just want to be left alone” and “aren’t pursuing it”.


I STAND CORRECTED and I am very pleased to say so. I couldn’t be happier to know I’ve been misinformed.


standup

No worries. I respect your posts as we seem to agree on most topics. I knew you had been misinformed here and I wanted you to know these folks are still very pissed off about what happened. However, there is a process and procedure for these things. Think good thoughts for these folks on Dec. 12th.


jms3211

Officer Murphy worked well for Sheriff Hedges. That was how he ruled his kingdom. Murphy would have never survived Ian. Now he is going to defend the likes of himself! How perfect is that mess?


choprzrul

Murphy IS surviving Ian because Ian chooses not to investigate and prosecute Murphy. The good ‘ol boys club perpetuates itself through the Blue Line.


Rogue agents of the government should never be tolerated by the public. I sincerely hope Mr. Blackburn turns over all evidence and findings to SLO county’s Grand Jury.


.


r0y

You mean “SLO county’s hand-picked Grand Jury.” Don’t hold your breath for that one.


willie

Everyone visiting this site should heed and keepth this:


Everyone mentioned in this article, and I do mean everyone is one big happy family in the same business, none of them are going to do anything for free or cheap, and I can assure you they all know how to jack up additional expenses and percentages along the way before you know it no matter what side of the fence they’re in!


innocentdragon1

Perhaps a great educational video for career days at schools.As the old saying goes.”think before you act”.

As law enforcement officers, you represent more than just yourself. You represent those that you serve.

The facts in this video might just suprise future children considering future employment choices in this field.


Cindy

Murphy has actually been practicing law for a while now. He was involved in the defense of Kailey Weinsenberg (the 22 yr old who killed CHP Brett Oswald in PR) and he was quoted in the Tribune earlier this summer about the case. I recall someone researching it and confirming that it was the one and the same, ” Darren Christopher Murphy” who grossly violated Matt Hart’s rights and then conspired to trump up charges against the innocent man. Personally, If I were a criminal, I wouldn’t mind having a criminal attorney who was once a dirty cop who knows all their dirty ploy’s, games and secrets. It couldn’t hurt.


innocentdragon1

Cindy. You are trully a wealth of knowledge. I really enjoy yor posts.Just my opinion. Please don’t shoot!


r0y

Or worse, Cindy, a dirty cop who might have “dirt” on others… judges, sheriffs, etc.


oto

Duffy was a former police officer in Las Vegas, Nevada, and worked in the Vice division before coming to San Luis Obispo. He has expressly given his consent to several illegal “home invasions” by means of warrantless searches (I have personal knowledge of these) that were based on non-credible sources of information and for which there was no probable cause. He has been publicly censured by the California State Bar for using a particularly invidious section of the Penal Code–Section 1368– to deprive a defendant of his constitutional rights.


Section 1368 permits a judge to take away the defendant’s right to trial and imprison him indefinitely, until such time as the judge–not a doctor–the judge decides he is “competent” to stand trial.


The Commission on Judicial Performance found that Duffy used this tactic with defendants who could not afford a lawyer, but did not want to put their fate in the hands of a public defender. In other words, he used this tactic on indigent defendants who wanted to represent themselves. Judge Duffy then ruled that they were “incompetent” to act as their own attorney because they were not lawyers.


The Commission on Judicial Conduct, in its public censure of his conduct stated that Duffy had no right to base his decision on his own personal opinion about whether or not they possessed the training to “competently” put forward their defense. The issue was whether or not they could understand the charges against them, and “knowingly” make the decision to forego a lawyer. In otherwords, the protection the law provides is to make sure the defendant waives his right to a lawyer “knowingly” (i.e., competently.)


Duffy should be removed from the bench. He violated the rules of judicial ethics and attorney conduct when he “adopted” seven children who were placed for adoption with the San Luis Obispo Superior Court. Not only does this create the appearance of bias and a conflict of interest, but it looks as if there is something more purient going on. As altruistic as his urge “to protect them” may seem, it looks to the public as if his motives may be more self-serving.


This information, ironically, was given to me in the course of a conversation with one of the “psychologists” who are asked to interview defendants who come before him. The psychologist works out of an office in the Pismo Beach government building complex.


HotRodWm

I have searched the website of the Commission on Judicial Performance.


Judge Duffy is not listed as having received a public censure, nor can I find his alleged conduct described in the private reproval section.


OTO, can you help me out with your source material?


RayCollins

What is one whom offers a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess?


r0y

…a politician?


oto

RayCollins:

1. a cop who falsifies h/er incident reports.

2. a D.D.A. who hides exculpatory evidence.

3. a judge who authorizes additional benefits without legislative oversight.

4. a bureaucrat who lets it happen.