Walter Mitty in Robes?

Murphy's law reigns

This source -- sympathetic to Murphy -- says his attempt to focus his colleagues on legal work rather than on management makes sense because the 14th Court has not been stellar in processing cases.

"Quite frankly that court has been way behind in recent years in getting their cases out, and Murphy thinks the judges need to spend more time writing and researching than micromanaging," the source says.

It's uncertain what the judges smarting under Murphy's law can do now, other than emulate his wife and make the best of the situation. There were reports that the dissidents could soon convene and try to sidestep Murphy by adopting their own operating rules. But they may not have to put up with the chief justice much longer, says a Republican source.

The word is out that Murphy would like to return to private life with a fat pension and will retire after the end of the legislative session, says this source. That way, Governor Bush could name a new chief justice without having to wade through Senate confirmation hearings this session.

If Murphy does decide to retire, his colleagues will find out if a successor will share some of the power -- or whether the title of chief justice also confers an automatic personality change.

-- Tim Fleck

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