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A judge who won a $2 million libel award from the Boston Herald, then sent threatening letters to its publisher, will step down from the bench, a court said Wednesday.

Judge Ernest Murphy and the state Commission on Judicial Conduct have agreed Murphy is "permanently disabled" from performing his judicial duties, according to the order from the state Supreme Judicial Court.

Murphy has said the libel case took a severe physical and emotional toll and he suffers from post-traumatic stress.

The commission initiated a complaint in October, alleging that Murphy suffered from disabilities that affected his performance. The court sealed the complaint and most related documents because they contain personal medical information.

Murphy's attorney, Michael Mone, said he was prohibited from commenting on the agreement.

Howard Neff, a staff attorney for the commission, would not comment on details of the complaint, but said the court accepted the agreement and "ordered that Judge Murphy shall not sit again as a judge in Massachusetts."

The Supreme Judicial Court hasn't decided yet whether to impose on Murphy the commission's recommendation for a 30-day suspension without pay, $25,000 fine and public censure for using court letterhead to write a threatening letter to the Herald's publisher, Patrick Purcell.

The agreement allows Murphy to continue to receive his judicial pay for up to four months. During that period, he must use any accrued vacation and sick time.


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