Judge John M. Murtagh

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 Chief Magistrate John Murtagh is congratulated by Judge Samuel Leibowitz as Brooklyn D.A. Edward Silver looks on, March 8, 1954.

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Jay Nelson Tuck moderates.

Guest is Judge John M. Murtagh, who discusses the drug problem and prostitution.

Panelists include Stan Siegel, Barbara Benmolche, Lillian Affan.


Judge Murtagh discusses current laws (based on the Harrison Narcotic Act) which restrict a doctor's ability to treat drug addicts. He speaks in general about the drug trade and the role of "pushers." He believes that the money must be pulled out of the drug trade by providing hospitals and clinics for addicts.

Murtagh speaks specifically about current laws and a leading official, whose policies he disagrees with.

Currently, there are only two treatment hospitals in the United States, and these are inadequate, as the in patient stay is only thirty days. It provides a time to withdrawal, and though they offer psychological services few patients use these services. Murtagh believes the roots of addiction need further probing to discover the underlying causes.

Asked about the addictive nature of marijuana, Murtagh points out that this drug does not have the physical addiction seen in other drugs, such as heroin, and even tobacco. The problem he sees is the potential that a marijuana addict may go on to use heroin. Though he does not view this relationship is a hard and fast rule.

The drug "king pins" are difficult to catch and convict. He also thinks it is more important to get at the main problem - addiction, not dealers. Specifically mention Lucky Luciano, and the Mafia.

They move on to questions of prostitution. While Murtagh is morally opposed to prostitution, he does not believe that arresting the "misguided girls" is the best method. He feels better therapeutic skills would solve more problems than arrest.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 72097
Municipal archives id: LT8424