Plea hearing set for NM judge accused in bribery case

A change of plea hearing is scheduled for a retired Las Cruces judge accused of funneling bribes to former Gov. Bill Richardson for judicial appointments.

Attorneys in the case have declined comment on whether a deal has been reached to reduce the four felony counts pending against former state District Judge Michael Murphy. But documents filed with the court show prosecutors and the defense have agreed to have a new charge filed against Murphy — this one a misdemeanor count of misconduct by a public official.

The hearing set for next Thursday comes about a month before Murphy was set to go to trial on the felony charges, which were filed with promises by Special Prosecutor Matt Chandler and Gov. Susana Martinez for an aggressive investigation into what prosecutors implied was a long-running practice. No one else has ever been charged in the case.

Richardson has called the accusations "outrageous and defamatory."