Anyone dressed in a dark judicial robe for Halloween had better not run into Judge James Murphy. Murphy’s official wardrobe is a little lighter this week after a thief took his robe from a building at Gonzaga University.
“This is proof positive that society is going to heck in a handbasket,” Murphy, a Spokane County Superior Court judge, said with a sardonic grin.
Murphy was one of dozens of lawyers, judges and others attending Tuesday’s red Mass, an annual GU celebration at which judges wear their court robes.
He attended the one-hour, 15-minute Mass at St. Aloysius Church on campus, then crossed the street for a reception.
There he hung up the robe - his lightweight version, not his heavier winter backup.
But before he left, someone disappeared with the robe - size extra-large in traditional courtroom black.
The judge says he doubts it was taken by accident because the name “James M. Murphy” is stitched prominently in green on the back of the neck.
No Spokane judge has reported the theft of a robe until now, court administrators said.
The value of a judge’s robe ranges from about $120 to $385.
“This is county property,” said Murphy, who was among those asking Spokane County commissioners on Thursday to spend more next year for another Superior Court judge to handle the high number of pending cases.
But now, commissioners have to pay for an extra robe, at the least.
The irony of losing his robe at Gonzaga - where Murphy attended law school - is not lost on the judge.
“I’d almost expect it to happen in the courthouse,” Murphy joked. “What kind of people spend a lot of time in the courthouse anyway?”