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August 8, 2005

Press Contact:
Kirston Fortune, UT Law Communications, (512) 471.7330.

The Hon. Harriet Murphy, Class of '69, Receives National Bar Association Award

Photo of The Honorable Harriet Murphy Photo Courtesy of The Daily Texan, 1994.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Honorable Harriet M. Murphy, a 1969 graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, received the 2005 Raymond Pace Alexander Award by the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association (NBA) in Orlando, Fla., on Wed., Aug. 4.

Judge Murphy, a retired Austin munipal judge who continues to practice law, received the award at the 5th Annual Thurgood Marshall Judicial Awards Luncheon during the NBA's 80th annual convention and the 34th anniversary of the Judicial Council. The award – given for contributions to judicial advocacy and to humanity – is named for Judge Alexander, a founding member of the Judicial Council and a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.

UT Law Dean Bill Powers, who attended the awards luncheon in Orlando, said, "I can think of no one who deserves this award more than Judge Murphy. She has been a path-breaking pioneer in the legal community." He added, "We are proud she is an alumna and a good friend of our Law School."

Murphy was the first African American woman appointed to a regular judgeship in Texas in 1973. She was a judge for the City of Austin Municipal Court for 20 years and during that time she became the presiding judge. She is also the only African American woman to serve as a democratic presidential elector from the state of Texas.

Prior to joining the municipal court, Murphy practiced law for eight years and was head of the government department of Huston-Tillotson College in Austin for six years. Born and raised in Atlanta, she attended classes with the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Booker T. Washington High School. She received her undergraduate degree from Spelman College and a master's degree from Clark-Atlanta University as well as a law degree from UT Law.

Murphy has been a member of the NBA's Judicial Council for many years and served a long tenure as an officer and executive committee member of the council. Her professional affiliations and participation in community affairs are many. Among them, she was a founding member of the Austin Black Lawyers Association, the Travis County Women Lawyers Association and the Austin Urban League. She has worked on a mayoral task force on the homeless and a gender bias implementation task force for the Texas Supreme Court.

Among her numerous honors, Murphy was the inaugural recipient of the Thurgood Marshal Legal Society Award of the UT School of Law. She was also inducted into the Spelman College Alumnae Hall of Fame in 1993 and was recognized by the NBA as the 2003 recipient of the Gertrude E. Rush Award.

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