Kick off the new year with EB’s first weekly update of 2024! EB discusses Murdaugh’s motion for a new trial, Chief Justice Beatty’s order and more.
EB here. Happy New Year, happy 2024 to our premium members. First, I want to wish everybody a happy and healthy New Year of 2024, which is an even year, which is always better for me than odd years is good for everyone. And I hope everybody had a great holiday season. Renee and I and the kids are out in Colorado right now and enjoying a little bit of the snow and skiing and just being together as a family. So it’s pretty good.
We’ve had a pretty busy couple of weeks during the holiday season on the Muradugh case. Justice Toal has hit the ground running. Former Chief Justice Toal who’s been assigned to it and there’s been a couple of telephone conferences. We have a status conference coming up on January 16, which is really going to set the ground rules in what is going to be the evidentiary hearing on whether there was jury interference that would entitle Alex Murdaugh to a new murder trial.
Now, what has happened in the last two weeks. Unfortunately, there’s just been a cascade of bad news coming out about Becky Hill, in addition to her son being indicted for the wiretapping issues. There are issues now coming out about Becky Hill plagiarizing substantial portions of her book from the BBC and possibly some others who made statements about the murder trial that Becky took as her own and gave opinions about them and also set forth in almost verbatim in her book that she did with Neil Gordon.
You’ll ask well, what does that have to do with the motion for a new trial? The question is, it doesn’t really touch on the relevancy of that but it goes to Becky’s credibility. And there was a filing yesterday by Team Murdaugh, their pre-hearing brief on the issue of jury interference. And what they said is that since Becky’s affidavit that she gave to the state that her credibility hasn’t aged well. And in the last two months is true that her credibility on a number of factors, whether it’s whether she exceeded the authority of her job, and wrote her book on company time, so to speak on on the diamond time of the county, whether she used her company emails for personal advancement regarding the book, and other matters, whether she gave inappropriate tours of the courthouse and charged for them. All these things that she may have done or alleged to have done on her job had to have been approved by the Supreme Court. And certainly, I’m not sure that a lot of these things, if true, would have been approved by the Supreme Court, especially during the murder trial. It’s alleged that she is, you know, forwarded emails to the prosecution about different things that may have happened during the trial and observations that people have made.
Again, these may be issues that don’t go directly on what was said to jurors, and whether that exceeded what she was able to say on ministerial things, as opposed to saying things about Alex’s credibility, which touches on material aspects of it. The standard that Justice toToal that was ultimately going to apply is called a harmless error standard, and that is going to say is what Becky is alleged to have told a couple jurors. Is that a harmless error and not material, were they not material things she said. If it’s alleged, and it’s proven that what she said was material, then most certainly Alex will be entitled to a new trial. And the jurors that I represent, I believe they’re going to say that they never heard these things that Miss Becky is alleged to have said, but that’s really not going to be the issue because if they didn’t hear it, that doesn’t mean that Miss Becky didn’t say it to these three jurors. And that’s something that Justice Toal is going to have to determine.
There’s still a dispute as to whether what they were told actually influenced their verdicts. The defense says that’s not part of the equation, that you don’t have to show that the verdicts were influenced. All you have to show is that what Becky is alleged to have said was material and if you meet that standard, and they say it’s a preponderance of evidence standard, not beyond the reasonable doubt standard. So let me try to explain that. Beyond the reasonable doubt, is that you should be like 99.9% sure that something did or didn’t happen. A preponderance, the evidence standard is more likely than not. And let me explain it: If I’m going to have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and I’m on a football field, and I catch the ball and like to, I got to almost take it down to the other side, it’s almost the half yard line. If I get it to the half yard line, I’ve proven beyond a reasonable doubt. For preponderance of evidence, it’s only I have to, I have to break the midfield line, I only have to get the football from the two yard line and cross the 50. I don’t have to get anywhere near the red zone, or the touchdowns. And so somebody wants to ask me, Well, what is beyond reasonable doubt, beyond reasonable doubt, I think the best explanation I’ve ever heard is, if you’re in charge of making a life and death decision for somebody, and you have to pull the plug, if you pull the plug, you’re beyond a reasonable doubt that that person is suffering from an illness or some kind of disease that will cause their death. If you’re going to pull that plug, you’re certain that they’re gonna die. If you’re not willing to pull the plug, then you’re not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that that person is going to die. So the standard isn’t that high. It’s only crossing the 50. And so, these are things that are going to play out over the next month.
The other thing that just came out was there was an order issued by Chief Justice Beatty from the South Carolina Supreme Court that no more filings on this Murdaugh matter will take place in the Waterboro county clerk court, the filings will take place in the Supreme Court. Therefore, the justices will determine what filings will be released to the public because of the sensitive nature of these things. Now, in Harpootlian’s preaching, pre hearing brief that he filed yesterday, the last page of the 20 page brief was dedicated, unfortunately to me, and said that I should not have a right to participate in these proceedings, because I represent the jurors and that I’m an advocate for the prosecution and preserve the verdict. And he said some other unflattering things about me which are fine. The truth of the matter is, the only reason that these jurors got lawyers, and hired me was because it was Harpootlian himself at the press conference that he gave in August announcing the motion for a new trial based on alleged juror interference, that he was the one who said from the podium, all you jurors better lawyer up, because I’m coming after you, I’m coming after your text messages, your emails, your phone calls. And so that’s why I was retained. I offered my services. Now, the good thing is, it seems that both the state and Team Murtaugh agree that if the jurors are going to testify in court, then the testimony will be what’s known as in camera, meaning outside the presence of the public, in chambers. So that Justice Toal will be the one that questions these jurors. If that’s the case, then my role is very limited in what I’m going to be able to do. And all I ever wanted to do was to protect the identity of these jurors, and that they not be harassed and subjected to public scorn. Remember, they gave seven weeks of their life, which is enough. And now they’re having their verdicts being challenged that somehow they didn’t vote according to their conscience. So if it’s going to work out that they testified, but it’s in chambers outside the public, then my participation is very limited. However, Harpootlian has indicated he still wants to subpoena their text messages and their phone calls and their phone records and their emails. Well, if that takes place, and is going to take place, then I will have a more visible role. And I will be filing a motion to quash that because I do not believe the jurors need to be invaded any more than they already have. So that’s pretty much where we are with everything.
We’re going to have this status conference on the 16th. The hearing is supposed to begin on the 29th. Again, Justice Toal has not really told us exactly how it’s going to go forward. We’ll learn that on the 16th but you know if history is a guide there have been unflattering things constantly coming out about Becky Hill. The question is, will Justice Toal allow all these other credibility issues plagiarism? Her sons wiretapping, that Miss Becky’s phone was confiscated pursuant to a search warrant? Will all that be discussed? Again, all this is going to have to play out; these are pretty meaty, and granular issues of law. And so that is where we are. We’re really excited. Mandy, David and I have been working on what our schedule is going to look like and the topics for Cup of Justice beyond the Murdaugh matter and 2024. Last Friday night, we had an unbelievable function in Hilton Head at the Westin in Hilton Head, where a lot of the premium members came from as far away as New York, Maryland, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia to meet Mandy and do the book signing, and we were so grateful for them and told them that, you know, without them, we’re just basically talking to air so we appreciate everyone. So COJ has gone forward full steam. On a personal level, the double murder case that I’m working on in Lexington, South Carolina, we were able to get bond for both our clients. The bond was a reasonable bond of $150,000. And so we’re working now on, you know, investigating the case and getting together our defensive self defense for what happened.
But we’re looking forward to a strong 2024. There’s a number of cases that we’re going to start following and look forward to solidifying more relationships with the Luna shark members. We are also going to be going on the road for some of our COJ shows. We’re talking about going to Asheville, North Carolina, and maybe Raleigh, North Carolina and Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee. So there’s a lot of good things happening. But I just want to wish everybody a Happy New Year and talk to you soon. EB out.
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