'Round About

A city jurist with a complicated past fights to keep her job.

By Kia Gregory
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted Mar. 12, 2008

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Slide rule: Judge Deborah Griffin has seen the justice system from both sides of the bench.

Twenty-four years ago Judge Deborah Griffin made a mistake, one she never thought would come back and get her kicked off the bench.

Sitting in her lawyer's office the day before she'll head to Pittsburgh and stand before the state Supreme Court, Griffin, 54, dressed in a blue suit and red shirt, her bobbed hair showing streaks of gray, contemplates her past and her tenuous fate.

She tells how she grew up in an East Harlem housing project and as a young woman got caught at the end of her husband's abusive fist. Out of work with bad credit and two sons--one of them autistic--she made up a Social Security number to get a job. She also used it to get two credit cards. When her estranged husband (who later died of a drug overdose) got caught in one of his crimes, he once again turned on his wife.

By this time Griffin had left him in Atlanta and returned to New York with her sons. She was working as a computer systems analyst at AT&T when one day the FBI came and questioned her. About six months later they came to her home and arrested her in front of her mother and 3-year-old son.

In 1984 Griffin pleaded guilty to two counts of using a false Social Security number to obtain credit, which is a federal crime. The judge gave her three years' probation. But not before "laying her out," Griffin says.

He told her he couldn't see how a woman so smart could do something so stupid. But he was going to give her a second chance.

While on federal probation, Griffin, who has a sociology degree from Penn, went to University of Missouri's Columbia Law School.

There she became president of the Black Law Student Association, and the first black student to win the moot court competition.

She also studied comparative intellectual property for two semesters at Oxford.

After graduation in 1988, she interviewed in the DA's offices in Brooklyn and Philadelphia. She chose Philadelphia because her $29,000-a-year paycheck would stretch further here. That fall she became a prosecutor in DA Ron Castille's domestic violence unit.

That's where she met Myla Friedman.

In September 1989 Friedman, 24, was a Temple University law school student and part-time intern.

Griffin, then 36, befriended Friedman, who often complained about her abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Bryan Edwards.

That November Friedman shot Edwards while they were in bed, in an apartment they shared off-and-on for nearly two years. Friedman said she shot him because he'd forced her to have oral sex at knifepoint. Police said Friedman killed Edwards after she realized she couldn't prevent him from returning to his estranged wife.

They also said Griffin had helped Friedman file assault charges against Edwards, offered her a place to stay until he could be arrested, and showed Friedman how to load and unload her new gun.

Griffin was one of the first people Friedman called after she was arrested.

Griffin's friends told her to get a lawyer.

Friedman was later convicted of third-degree murder and did six years in Muncy.

Griffin was fired.

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Comments 1 - 12 of 12
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1. Kia said... on Apr 19, 2009 at 12:56AM

“I am familiar with this case. It is an unfortunate situation that Mr . Edwards died but no one was in that apartment but Mr. Edwards, and Ms. Friedman. I know Myla Friedman enough to know that she would never intentionally murder anyone. Her heart is not hardened like that. No situation can ever prepare us for the death of someone. While this case is 20 years old this november. I am certain Ms. Friedman lives with it each and everyday. The victims family as well. No family is without oain when people think they did what they had to do.”

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2. I said said... on Jan 30, 2010 at 12:42AM

“I am familiar with this case as well and I KNOW Myla more than you. She is EVIL & she is a self centered, spoiled, "ALL ABOUT ME" scum BIOTCH of the earth. Mr. Edwards WAS NOT a drug dealer as you & the media tried to portray him as. True she & Mr. Edwards were in that apartment alone, but the forensic evidence PROVED that she purposely stood over this man & shot him while he slept in her bed. She also scratched her OWN body with the knife she claimed he attacked her with. She's a LIAR that got off easy b/c of who her father paid off. 5 years of jail time was CRIMINAL in itself for the PREMEDITATED MURDER that she committed. I PRAY that she ALWAYS has nightmares. Yes she DOES have a heardened heart & she felt if SHE couldn't have this man, then N!!O ONE WOULD HAVE THIS MAN! May her soul FOREVER burn in hell!! and if she ever reads this, Myla, tell daddy that money cannot buy your way into heaven. MURDERER!!”

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3. The Inside Scoop said... on Jan 30, 2010 at 12:54AM

“Deborah Griffin....HA..I remember her too!!! She's the "best friend" that showed Myla how to work the system through LIES to get what she wanted. (The false police reports about NUMEROUS attacks....WHICH NEVER HAPPENED) The assistance with the purchase of the hand gun & well as the practice shooting @ the range.. She must've thought she was getting away free & clear, but in due time her demons were BOUND to surface as well. 20 yrs later, she still looks the same..like the MONSTER she always was.”

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4. I'm done said... on Jan 30, 2010 at 01:18AM

“This was such a sad case. They drove Mr Edwards through the mud. Yes he was married, but estranged. MYLA WAS MARRIED TOO. They also never mentioned that her white HUSBAND was one of the bystanders standing outside of the apartment on Greene St when the police were investigating. They wanted to portray an image of a "woe is me" temple law student, with clean hands (NOT) being attcked by a bad boyfriend so she had no choice but to shoot in self defense. She drove to Texas to try to take him back from his wife & failed. She fire bombed his car when he got back. I WILL NEVER FORGET THIS CASE. What this case taught me is that MONEY TALKS, JUDGES SHOW FAVOR & the media NEVER tells the FULL story!!”

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5. Anonymous said... on May 5, 2010 at 04:09AM

“This is Myla Friedmans son and I would just like to say any of you with negative comments about my mother can quite frankly shut the hell up. She is the best mother in the world and I know for a fact she wouldn't have done what she did if it wasn't necessary. It was in self defense, she was in a abusive relationship which unfortunately led to the death of Bryan Edwards. However, Edwards was a monster with an intent to harm where as my mom was the opposite, she had no choice but to protect herself otherwise she could have potentially been the one to be murdered my a ruthless individual. I don't know why you guys are all so against her and the hard choices she had to make but my mother is not a murderer.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Nov 19, 2010 at 12:24PM

“Myla's son I doubt it! She had access to enough money to leave him and Philadelphia. Why kill him in his sleep, why not get up and leave? Hummm. I don't recall his wife Renee or other women claiming physical abuse. "Son" you only know your mothers' side.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Feb 24, 2011 at 03:05AM

“Aww I'm flattered, you're putting me in quotations but really it's ME so no quotations necessary. Regardless of what money she may have had, that does not stop the fact that he physically abused her. Yeah she could have left, but men like that always come after eventually killing the spouse. Killing him in his sleep? Uhh no, that's not what happened. Why are you justifying the actions of Edwards anyway? Holding someone at knife point to perform sexual acts is disgusting and should not be tolerated. And I also came across my moms poems that she wrote in jail and let be the first to say that she felt deep remorse for what took place and she occasionally wished it was her life gone instead of his, but what's done is done.”

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8. Gina said... on Mar 23, 2011 at 04:10PM

“I met Myla when I was in college. She and I hung out around Temple's campus and I have to say, she was a very polished, and graceful person who really loved Edwards. I truly do not believe she would have intentionally hurt him or anyone else. Myla's son- you are right to trust and believe in your Mother because she will always be your Mother and you know her heart because your heart is part of hers. Be Blessed.”

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9. Anonymous said... on Apr 11, 2012 at 10:25AM

“If you are myla's son you sound terrible. To my knoweledge you were not even born and if you were you were very young. If you feel this strongly it could only be because of what your mother told you and she should be ashamed of herself. She may have been a great mother to you but she is a murderer. You have no choice to feel the way you feel because she is your mother just don't cross her. She had know choice but to make him look bad because how would you look at her? She knew one day you would grow up and somebody would tell you and then you would look the stories up and be upset with her. So she told you first. Bottom line is there are hundreds of children whose mothers are whores, classless, clueless and yes murders. Like you said what's done is done!”

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10. Anonymous said... on Apr 11, 2012 at 10:29AM

“Myla's son you actually sound like Myla still defending yourself. let it go you got away with murder. be happy.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Jun 21, 2014 at 06:46AM

“Who is the father of this son of Myla's? When did she have time to have a son? Maybe when she tried to rekindle with her estranged husband, Walt? or is he the son of Edwards?”

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12. Jamal Wright said... on Jul 11, 2014 at 02:54AM

“May my mom rest in peace.”

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