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Sandy Murphy Accuses Nevada of Malicious Prosecution

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 22, 2009 2:30 PM

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Sandra Murphy, who was made infamous for being accused of murdering casino mogul Ted Binion (Ms. Murphy's ex-lover), has filed a lawsuit accusing Nevada of malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.

Ms. Murphy and her lover Rick Tabish were convicted of the murder of Mr. Binion back in 2000. However, their convictions were overturned and a new trial was ordered in 2003. The new trial ended with an acquittal for the murder charges of Mr. Binion, but both Ms. Murphy and Mr. Tabish was found guilty of burglary for taking silver from Mr. Binion's vault.

Her current lawsuit against Nevada claims that her attorney at the time failed to call a Nye County sheriff's deputy to testify. She claims that his testimony would have altered the outcome of her trial.

What Is Malicious Prosecution?

Malicious prosecution is claim that either the state has, with improper purpose, prosecuted you for a crime, or that someone has initiated civil proceedings against you for an improper purpose.

What Are the Elements of Malicious Prosecution?

1) The defendant entity commenced a criminal proceeding or civil lawsuit.

2) The proceeding ended in the victim's favor.

3) There was no probable cause for the proceeding to be initiated.

4) The proceeding was brought with malice toward the victim.

As with false arrest, this claim will fail if the defendant had probable cause to initiate criminal proceedings.

As you can tell from the elements, proving malicious prosecution can be difficult. Ms. Murphy has the first two elements, but proving a lack of probable cause will be difficult since she and Mr. Tabish were convicted of raiding Mr. Binion's vault of silver. It will also be hard for Ms. Murphy to prove that Nevada had malice toward her that caused the initiation of the criminal proceedings against her.

Ms. Murphy is seeking to have her title as a felon removed from her record. She claims that she is having a hard time getting employment. She is also asking for $50,000 in punitive damages. She is pro se (representing herself) in this lawsuit.

The Nevada Attorney General's Office told the Las Vegas Sun that they have not been served with the lawsuit yet.

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