Billy Murphy experienced the consequences of the U.S. policy of a "war on drugs" while practicing law for over thirty years, including three years as a judge on the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, the highest level Maryland trial court. Judge Murphy tried numerous high-profile criminal and civil cases including some of the most celebrated in Maryland history. Making history comes naturally to Billy, as he comes from one of the most distinguished African-American families in the country. His father, William H. Murphy, Sr., was one of the first African-American judges in Maryland. His great-grandfather, founded the Afro-American Newspaper. His sister, Laura Murphy, is a top lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union and heads their Washington D.C. office.
Judge Murphy has handled cases in the Supreme Court of the United States and the state and federal courts of ten states, as well as in the United Kingdom.
Judge Murphy has always viewed the implementation of drug prohibition laws as a war on the poor, which is destroying communities of people of color. When he heard a LEAP speaker talk in Baltimore, Billy immediately joined the organization and volunteered to also speak for LEAP.
Profiled on five different years in Baltimore Magazine, Billy was named one of the top four criminal lawyers in Maryland and rated as one of the 25 smartest people in Baltimore. In describing Judge Murphy, Baltimore Magazine said he "is scary-smart. Like, that thing you learned today? He probable already knows it. An M.I.T. engineering grad, Murphy wired his practice years ago so that he could check precedents, draft motions, and send e-mail while in court. Murphy would have made a brilliant engineer-he sped through Poly high school with straight 100's in physics, chemistry, and calculus. But his most difficult career choice was not between law and engineering. It was between law and his true love, jazz. 'When I passed the bar, my first reaction was elation,' Murphy recalled. 'And then I said, 'S--t. This means I probably can't be a musician.' But Murphy seems to have reconciled himself to the legal life. Maybe his practice of yoga smoothed the way. 'It's an extension of my Christian beliefs,' Murphy said. 'If God is like the pinnacle of the mountaintop, each religion can be viewed as a different road up the same mountain. Intelligent people look for the fastest way to get to the top of the mountain."