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Judge asks if free legal help is possible

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The judge overseeing Terry Nichols' preliminary hearing wants to know if he can ethically accept free legal support.

"This court has a desperate need for additional services," Payne County Associate District Judge Robert M. Murphy Jr. said in a May 31 letter to a state advisory panel on judicial ethics.

Nichols, 45, faces a state murder case over the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. His preliminary hearing begins Aug. 7.

A former classmate of Murphy's, attorney June Chubbuck, volunteered her Oklahoma City law firm to work free as the judge's law clerks.

"It is our hope that this matter will be handled properly, as free from error as is possible, and justice served," she wrote.

Murphy said he is doing is regular caseload as well as matters leading up to Nichols' preliminary hearing.

"Judge Murphy has handled all the legal proceedings in this case on his own and for the past several months has worked in his chambers at the courthouse until between midnight and 2 a.m. on many occasions," he said in his request for an opinion.
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