Prosecuting Attorneys' Council Capital Litigation Director Laura Murphree Receives National Recognition

Ms. Laura J. Murphree, capital litigation director of the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia (PAC), has been selected to receive the 2010-2011 Award for Outstanding Advocacy in Capital Cases presented by the Association of Government Attorneys in Capital Litigation (AGACL). The award, which recognizes outstanding capital litigators in the United States each year, will be presented on Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at the AGACL's annual summer conference in New Orleans, LA.

"I am very humbled by this honor from my peers," said Murphree, who has been the capital litigation director at PAC since 2006. As director, Murphree assists or appears as a special prosecutor in capital cases at the request of any of Georgia's 49 district attorneys.

"Seeking the death penalty is an awesome responsibility," said Murphree. "When doing so, the utmost respect of the law, the parties involved, the victims, and our own humanity need to be recognized and managed.  All sense of ego must be checked at the door and never enter the process. Otherwise, we will fail to appropriately respect our responsibility as prosecutors."

Former PAC Executive Director Rick Malone, who nominated Murphree for the award, praised her steadfast commitment to the prosecution profession, "Laura has long been one of the best, if not the best, capital litigator in Georgia. I am proud to see her receive the national recognition that she so richly deserves."

Murphree began her prosecutorial career in 1996 at the Cobb County Solicitor-General's office where she prosecuted DUI and domestic violence cases. In 1999, she went to work for the Cobb Judicial Circuit's District Attorney's office, where she prosecuted felony cases including crimes against women and children. It was in the Cobb DA's office that Murphree handled her first case in which the death penalty was sought. Since that time, she has been actively involved in dozens death penalty cases, and has become a leader and mentor to other state capital litigation prosecutors.

Murphree is careful never to let the extra scrutiny capital cases receive overshadow the reason she became a prosecutor in the first place. "When I leave the courtroom of a death penalty case, I'm not entirely comfortable with anyone saying "congratulations." Rather, I prefer "job well done" in pursuit of justice for the victims."

"Laura's professionalism is unparalleled, and she truly believes in seeking justice for victims of crime," said Stan Gunter, who became PAC's executive director in July. "She has an extensive and consuming interest in preparing all death penalty prosecutors to serve the citizens of Georgia by becoming the best they can be."

To that end, in 2010, Murphree developed the Georgia Capital Litigation Training initiative, with grant-funding from the U.S. Department of Justice. Not only did Murphree secure the grants to facilitate the training, but she developed a high-level, multi-day curriculum taught by Georgia's top capital litigators. To date, nearly 200 prosecutors have attended Murphree's intensive training seminar.

Murphree's dedication to teaching and serving her community extend well beyond the scope of her position at PAC. In addition to acting as an adjunct professor with the Criminal Justice undergraduate program at Kennesaw State University, Murphree also serves as a member to the Public Safety Program Committee and has served as an Executive Officer on the Cobb County Bar Association Board of Directors. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Board of the Tommy Nobis Center, which assists handicapped and mentally challenged individuals gain job skills and work placement.

"In all of my pursuits,  I try to remember Teddy Roosevelt's wisdom to his son, "If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful,"" said Murphree. "I am hopeful that by receiving this award, I am living up to an appropriate ideal as a prosecutor."

Friday, July 8, 2011