Yesterday came word that the state’s Supreme Judicial Court denied a Southborough couple’s request to remove the district judge in their lawsuit over their crumbling Lover’s Lane home. Kathryn and Christian Culley want the district judge removed because of an alleged conflict of interest.
In its ruling (you can read the whole thing here), the SJC said while they weren’t taking a position on the charge of judicial misconduct, they denied the Culley’s request because they said the couple has “alternate remedies” to deal with their complaint that should be explored first.
The Culleys had sued their builder and a host of others claiming they were defrauded in the purchase of their shoddily-built million-dollar home. In 2010 a jury awarded the Culleys $1.1M in damages, but Middlesex Superior Court Judge Thomas Murtagh overruling the verdict saying the Culleys had failed to provide proof of damages, and instead awarded the couple only $140K.
The Culleys want Judge Murtagh to recuse himself from the case due because they say he has a prior relationship with the defense attorneys.
An attorney for the Culleys told the Metrowest Daily News the decision is not necessarily bad news for his clients.
(Michael McLaughlin of Boston) noted that the SJC did not claim that the allegations against Murtagh were false.
“We express no view on the merits of this or any other allegation of judicial misconduct in this case,” the court wrote, adding that such a complaint against a judge must first be presented to the Commission on Judicial Conduct by law.
McLaughlin said because of secrecy requirements he could not confirm or deny whether the Culleys have filed a complaint against Murtagh with the CJC.
He also said he intends to file a motion as opposed to a notice requesting Murtagh’s recusal from the case this week. He had not done so before because he didn’t think it was proper to allow the defense to argue against him and ingratiate itself to the judge.