William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr.
Role at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy
Judge William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr. is the founder and a senior partner of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy in Baltimore. In addition to his active trial work and ongoing caseload, Judge Murphy also serves as the informal elder statesman of the firm.
With more than 42 years of practice in state courts, Judge Murphy has been successful in over 90% of his state court cases and over 40% of his federal cases–four times higher than the national average of 9%.
In the courtroom, he’s known as an expert litigator with a calm and calculated approach for getting to the truth. Ask those who know him best to describe the man leading many of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy’s most complex cases and the words you’ll hear most frequently are “imaginative,” “leader,” “calm,” and “team builder.”
Judge Murphy is most energized when battling the powerful to protect the rights of the innocent and under-represented. Judge Murphy is legendary among trial attorneys, known for his creative and systematic approach to commanding any situation in court. At every turn, he has been able to out-strategize, out-organize and simply out-work his opponents. His exceptional ability to cross-examine any witness has led him to countless victories. “In court, you only know, at best, 60 percent of what’s going to happen. The other 40 percent is unexpected. You state your theme. Then you improvise and, at the end, restate the theme,” he says.
His 1998 victory for boxing promoter Don King became a legendary case in sports history and garnered wide-spread attention throughout the nation. In a case of wire fraud charges brought on by UK-based bank, Lloyd’s of London, Judge Murphy defended Mr. King’s participation in fraudulently claiming $350,000 of refunds from a cancelled boxing match. Through his extensive knowledge on the case and fearless cross-examination of Mr. King’s former accountant, all nine counts were ultimately dismissed.
In 2008, Judge Murphy and his team at Murphy, Falcon & Murphy reached a $54 million settlement with Constellation Energy on behalf of homeowners in the Baltimore area whose private drinking wells were contaminated by coal ash.
In August 2010, he and his team of attorneys represented 23 plaintiffs who were awarded $34.33 million in damages after a Baltimore City jury found that they had been permanently injured in a carbon monoxide release at an Inner Harbor restaurant.
Judge Murphy was 14 when he first started organizing in his community. In 1950s Baltimore, an incinerator in the historically African American community of Cherry Hill was posing a public health crisis in the neighborhood. Residents’ calls for action were routinely dismissed by the prevailing city powers, but thanks to young Judge Murphy’s restless organizing, the incinerator closed less than a year after he became involved. This incident speaks volumes about the kind of attorney Mr. Murphy was to become.
A fighting spirit for justice is in his blood. His father, William H. Murphy, Sr. was one of the first African American judges to preside in Baltimore, as well as the state of Maryland. The elder Murphy was a staunch civil rights supporter and a test case for integration at the University of Maryland Law School. “Even as the son of a judge, segregation was an up-close and personal thing for me,” says Judge Murphy. The injustices that he experienced as a young man were formative, inspiring him to undertake a lifelong fight for the rights of under-represented communities.
After a pioneering career as an undergraduate engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and early jobs at a leading aerospace company, Judge Murphy decided to continue his family’s heritage of service through the legal profession back home in Baltimore. In 1966, he entered the University of Maryland School of Law.
At University of Maryland, he was a member of the Law Review and founded the University of Maryland chapter of BLSA (Black Law Students Association) with the aim of setting admissions targets for 20% African American enrollment and 50% female enrollment. The school adopted the admission targets in 1968.
After ten years of building a thriving practice as a superstar attorney, he successfully ran for judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in 1980. In 1983 he resigned and returned to his true passion: litigation. He has been perfecting this craft ever since.
In 2004, Judge Murphy received the Charles Hamilton Houston Award for Lifetime Achievement in Litigation. The Baltimore Sun has profiled him as one of the top five lawyers in the state and wrote that he is recognized by his peers as “extraordinarily gifted” and “one of the best defense attorneys of his time.”
Awards and Recognitions
- Clarence Darrow Award, Mass Torts Made Perfect Conference, 2012
- AV-Rated 20 years, Martindale-Hubbell
- 100 Top Trial Lawyers in the U.S., American Trial Lawyers Association, 2011
- The Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, 2011
- Whitney M. Young, Jr. Memorial Award, Urban League of Greater Baltimore, 2010
- Legal Elite Readers’ Poll, Top Baltimore Lawyer, Baltimore Smart CEO, 2010
- Circle of Excellence, Merchant Circle, 2010
- Top Attorney in Maryland, Baltimore Magazine Super Lawyers, 2009, 2010
- Trailblazer Award, Minority Business Summit, 2009
- Influential Marylander, The Daily Record, 2008
- Lifetime Award, Black CEO Summit Trailblazer Award, 2007
- Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003
- Lifetime Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2002
- Top Ten Criminal Lawyers in Maryland, Baltimore Magazine, 1996
- Charles Hamilton Houston Award for Lifetime Achievement in Litigation, 2004
- Board of Governors, Maryland Trial Lawyers Association
- 25 Smartest People in Baltimore, Baltimore Magazine