© Colin Murphy and Castor Conley
Castor Conley and Colin Murphy
An attorney paid a stranger's $983 fine so he could help the man avoid having a felony conviction on his record.

Colin M. Murphy, a civil attorney in Portland, OR, was sitting in the gallery of a courtroom waiting for his case to begin when he overheard the attorneys and judge from a separate case discussing the defendant, who was about be convicted as a felon simply because he couldn't pay $983 in restitution.

Castor Conley, 27, a married father with a 17-month-old child, would have faced a misdemeanor sentence if he were unable to pay the fine.

Murphy, having never met Conley before, said he could tell that the court did not want to overly penalize the man and were just looking to compensate a man whose truck was damaged. He also realized that a felony conviction could seriously hurt Conley's ability to get a job or rent/buy a house. Murphy was compelled to help, approaching the judge and offering to pay the fine himself.

"All of us sometime in our lives have done something we would rather not have done," Murphy told The Oregonian. "And the time will come when perhaps we are going to be held accountable. And I think at that point we would like to have somebody show us mercy."

Conley's attorney, Lawrence Taylor, said he had never met Murphy before he offered to cover the fine.

"It was mere coincidence," Taylor said. "In fact, we were only there that day because we got a set-over because my client needed an extra week. He thought he could come up with the money."

Taylor said he was shocked by Murphy's good deed. "I've practiced for 22 years, and I've never seen anything like it, and I don't expect to again." Taylor said Conley was emotional over the gesture, and thanked Murphy for his generosity.

The judge reportedly told Conley that he should eventually reimburse Murphy for the fine, but Murphy said he's not concerned with getting his money back and was just happy to help. "If I get paid back, great," Murphy said. "If I don't, no problem. I'm not going to hold the kid to it."