James Murphy, the veteran prosecutor who ripped Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in a fiery resignation letter this summer, has landed a new job. He’s now a defense attorney at a law firm that defends Chicago police officers against criminal charges filed by Foxx’s office.
Murphy’s resignation letter blasted the state of affairs in Foxx’s office, and he went so far as to say he had “zero confidence in their leadership.”
Some members of the Fraternal Order of Police were told at an August 17 meeting that Murphy would be joining Grace & Thompson, a firm that handles defense work for Chicago’s front-line cops. At the time, though, neither the law firm nor FOP President John Catanzara replied to our inquiries about Murphy’s plans.
But the cat came out of the bag on Friday afternoon when Murphy appeared in a place he knew well — Chicago’s central bond court at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. But this time, Murphy was speaking for the defense.
His first case with Grace & Thompson involves a 28-year-old Chicago police officer charged with aggravated domestic battery during Friday’s court hearing. We are not identifying the officer to protect the identity of the alleged victim, who is also a Chicago police officer.
But Murphy is expected to take on more high-profile cases, and some former colleagues at the state’s attorney’s office expect him to create plenty of headaches for Foxx’s team.
In his last role as a supervising prosecutor, Murphy personally handled the bail hearings for people accused of Chicago’s most heinous and violent crimes. This summer, he took on a murder case, won a conviction, and then quit.
One office veteran said Murphy’s departure amounted to a loss of “not just experience but skill as well.” The former colleague called Murphy a “top-notch trial lawyer … There are very few people left in the office who know how to really try a case.”
Now, those left in the prosecutor’s office may find themselves going up against Murphy in future hot-button, high-profile cases involving Chicago cops.
Among the clients that Grace & Thompson has represented since last year:
- A 26-year Chicago police veteran who was accused of stealing $2,000 in a check scheme
- An officer charged with shooting an unarmed man during an investigatory stop at the Grand Red Line station
- A Chicago police officer who was accused of punching a handcuffed man who allegedly shot at other cops. Prosecutors dropped the case after a grand jury refused to return a true bill against the officer.
- Two officers accused of shooting an unarmed man as they dispersed a group of men in Pilsen
- A now-retired Chicago cop charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct for grappling with a woman at North Avenue Beach. The incident was captured on video that went viral last year.
- A former police sergeant who faces federal charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a transgender woman while on duty in 2019.
In addition to criminal matters, the firm also represents officers who face disciplinary action before the police board, including Officer Eric Stillman, who fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Foxx’s office decided against charging Stillman with any criminal wrongdoing. But Stillman still faces possible dismissal from the force after a board member recently referred the case to the panel for consideration.
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