Crime & Courts

Former judge indicted by Kenai investigative grand jury has court appearance delayed

The initial court appearance of a retired Homer judge on perjury charges has been delayed by more than a month.

Margaret Murphy was scheduled to be arraigned on a single count of felony perjury at Kenai’s courthouse on Tuesday. But in a court filing Monday, the independent prosecutor hired by the state, Clint Campion, asked to extend the time until her arraignment because Murphy is traveling out of the country until mid-June.

Murphy was indicted April 28 by an unusual Kenai investigative grand jury influenced by activists affiliated with David Haeg, a Kenai man who has long alleged corruption in the state’s judiciary. Haeg has presided over a growing effort to subvert the norms of how grand juries have typically done business in Alaska, apparently succeeding in putting his judicial corruption allegations on the agenda of an investigative grand jury.

Haeg has said he used direct tactics including asking grand jurors walking into the courthouse to investigate Murphy and other judges.

Murphy was the judge for Haeg’s 2004 trial on unlawful hunting charges that launched his two-decade battle against the Alaska court system.

Haeg and his supporters have claimed the indictment as a win for their cause and had been planning a celebration at the Kenai courthouse during Murphy’s arraignment.

“Celebrate our Kenai Grand Jury taking down the first of Alaska’s corrupt judges!” Haeg wrote in a text message Tuesday.


In a separate filing, all three Kenai judges asked to be recused from any involvement in a case, saying the Kenai courthouse itself, including judges and staff, had become the “primary focus” of protests during the investigative grand jury, and the public perception of impartiality could be compromised.

Campion, the independent prosecutor, “stated on the record at a special grand jury that this indictment resulted from the investigative grand jury proceeding that has been ongoing for several months in the Kenai Courthouse,” the filing says.

“For many months there have been protests and unavoidable publicity surrounding issues of the investigative grand jury that has directly affected the judges and staff at the Kenai courthouse, including allegations of corruption.”

The filing was signed by Kenai Superior Court judges Lance Joanis, Kelly Lawson and Jason Gist.

A copy of Campion’s contract with the states shows he was retained for no more than $50,000 to “provide legal advice to a confidential grand jury investigation.” The contract runs from Aug. 17, 2022, until “the resolution of the matter.”

Murphy will now be arraigned on June 23.

Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.