This week Eric Bland discusses accusations levied against former clerk Becky Hill, a new lawsuit linked to the Murdaugh case, and the heated political battle between Dick Harpootlian and Russell Ott. Don’t miss out on the new Law Library vocabulary!


Hey there Premium Members, True Sunlight listeners, Cup of Justice listeners and a shout out to my wonderful producer, Samantha slammin’ Sammy Berlin. Hey guys, you may hear some opera in the background. My office is in front of an amphitheater and so they’re warming up in the background. So you may hear some noise so I do apologize for that. 

But I hope everybody had a great Memorial Day. And it’s a short week, we’re already Thursday ready for another weekend. We’ve actually had a lot happening this week. Yesterday, an article came out in the paper saying that Becky Hill, the former clerk of court for Colleton County, who was presiding over the murder trial and all the things that happened after the trial that almost Alex got a new trial because of her conduct. She was hit with 76 Different ethics violations. And that hearing is going to be in December of 2024. That’s how backed up the Ethics Commission is for trying cases. It seems like if you believe the article, she was running her clerk of court’s office like it was a little thiefdom. She was bonusing herself 2,000, 2,500 dollars almost annually. She was taking people to lunch, she was buying Christmas gifts and buying decorations from her clerk of court account that should have been only for official purposes and the allegation is She was throwing parties for people who are leaving the office and using her clerk of court account. And she was buying things for judges and different things. And then she started using the courthouse as a tour destination and was charging for it. So it should be interesting to follow this. These are very serious allegations and obviously, a governmental official can’t use the government account for their own individual purposes. So it’s just more Murdaugh that keeps on giving the gift that keeps on giving. 

We have another civil lawsuit that’s related to the Murdaugh matter. A company named Inquiry LLC filed a lawsuit against BakerHostetler LLP, which is a monster law firm, one of the biggest in the world. Evidently Parker hired BakerHostetler to hire this company to do investigative and investigative work on the  Murdaugh matter to deflect attention away from Parker convenience store and dig up dirt about  Murdaugh and all others involved so that the focus wouldn’t be on Parker Convenience store. It seems like it’s a collection action that they haven’t been paid for. But the discovery that may yield in that case will be interesting because it wouldn’t surprise me if inquiry starts to reveal information about what lawyers wanted them to do and investigate and whether they wanted them to spread false stories. So it’s just more  Murdaugh.

 On a local level here, we have a really good political fight brewing between Dick Harpootlian and his opponent Russell Ott. Russell Ott is in the House of Representatives is a Democrat in South Carolina and obviously Dick Harpootlian is in the Senate, their district was redrawn, and they are taking over Nikki Setzler’s seat, who had been a longtime state senator. And so they’re in a nasty fight. And they’re trying to see who can out Democrat who’s more pro choice and who’s more for minorities. We’re starting to see a lot of Dick’s past comments come up behind him. Like when he said in 1985, when he was running for I think county council and they asked him, do you want to black vote? And he said, No, I only want to rent it for a day. So the race is starting to get nasty. The primary is June 11. And obviously, I have supported Russell Ott because I don’t think that Dick Harpootlian is good for our state right now. 

So the next thing that came out is there’s a sheriff named Alex Underwood and my good friend Stanley Myers represented him in a trial last year. He was, before Stanley died, Alex Underwood was the Sheriff of Chester County and he was like a Big Boss Hog guy. And he used his sheriff’s deputies to build him a barn that was a man cave, and they called it instead of the Taj Mahal they called it the Barn Mahal. And Stanley tried the case and he was convicted of corruption and he’s currently doing I think, like 44 or 46 months in a Kentucky federal prison. Well, yesterday, he came back to South Carolina and pled guilty to more state crimes and they ran his sentence concurrently. And we’ve talked about concurrent, which means that he’ll serve that at the same time as he is serving his federal sentence. So more corruption, more things that are local.

The other thing that I found interesting is yesterday, Scottie Scheffler who is a pro golfer during the PGA a couple of weeks ago in Louisville, Kentucky, was arrested on his way to play his second round in the PGA for violating a traffic directive from a patrol officer. There was an accident where a volunteer had run across the highway and got hit by a car and died. And Scottie was charged with allegedly dragging the police officer and resisting arrest. They dropped the charges yesterday, but one of the reasons they dropped the charges is the police officer didn’t have his body camera on. And that’s why body cam footage is so vitally important. Fortunately, there was a camera on one of the telephone poles and they saw that Scottie did not drag the police officer as he alleged. But that’s why we have these body cams on police officers. And this police officer for some reason didn’t turn it on. So that’s why I am a big advocate of body cam footage.

The last thing I’ll talk about before we move on to some lighter stuff is it came out this week that the five major football conferences, the Power Five, are going to empower colleges to pay their athletes so that the athletes who play football and basketball in these revenue generating sports are going to have to negotiate contracts where they’re going to be paid. And we know that the NIL has been huge. That’s the name, image and likeness. Angel Reese, who was an LSU basketball player was making 1.8 million last year and now she’s only making $73,000 playing for Chicago. Caitlin Clark was making over $2 million in NIL money. Well, now these college athletes are going to be paid athletes by the actual institution. And it’s shocking to me. Yes, I think they should get some type of stipends because they’re not able to work. But you know, the disparity of your fellow students driving up, let’s say in 2008 Jeep that your uncle gave you as a hand me down so you had a car in college, and then a student pulls up in a Mercedes or a Maybach or you know, a Lamborghini, some of these college football players now have Lamborghinis. I just think we’re really moving far afield from amateur athletics. 

So let’s finish on a lighter note. I’m really excited about the possibility of a Hulu series that David and Mandy have been working on. Let’s have a little bit of fun and let’s talk about who we think should play these people. So this morning, who’s going to play EB? I think it should be Jon Bernthal who was in the Punisher. He’s a great guy. His nose is a little wonky because I guess he’s been in fights but I like him and then Jim Griffin immediately came to me, Hank from breaking beds. Sklyar’s brother who was the sheriff, Dean Norris. That’s it, spot on. And then Dick Harpootlian absolutely came to me right away because the politics, Veep was one of my favorite shows and the Chief of Staff Kevin Dunn is perfect for Dick Harpootlian. So, Alex Murdaugh without question is Jeff Daniels. You know, I just saw him in the Full Man who played that real estate tycoon on Netflix and the mini series in Atlanta. With the eyes. Jeff Daniel, no question. Plus, he’s tall like Alex. Ronnie without question, Matthew Modine. You know, he’s got a long skinny face like Ronnie. He’s also tall. I love that. And if Mandy’s going to make an appearance it’s got to be Amy Adams. Tony is without question, Daniel Radcliffe. We’ll dye his hair because now he’s getting a little older, but he’ll wear the glasses. And then Brian Harriet would definitely be Chris Owen, if you look up Chris Owen he looks just like Brian Harriet. Would be a great cast. So if you guys agree, let us know if not give us who we should have as actors and actresses. 

Now we’re going to move to the Law Library and we’re going to talk about discovery in civil and criminal court and we’re going to talk about Brady violations. So discovery is different in both civil and criminal court. In civil court, the lawyers conduct discovery and it’s a broad based discovery that you can do. You can send out subpoenas to third parties, you can send those for bank records, for official records from the police department. You can subpoena governmental agencies, you can do FOIAs, Freedom of Information Act. The parties themselves in civil litigation, they take depositions of parties, of witnesses, of expert witnesses. In depositions, you may be familiar with because we’ve talked about them, it’s in a private setting, usually in a lawyer’s office, you sit across the table from each other, and there’s a court reporter that takes everything down. And one lawyer asked questions of the witness, and the witness has has to answer. It’s not like Suits. Like in Suits, when you hear you watch him take depositions, Harvey’s interrupting, and the other lawyers are interrupting and talking. You can’t do that. We have rules that say the only thing a lawyer can do in a deposition is use the word objection and put it on the record. You can’t interfere. You can’t give any type of narrative or suggestive answer. So that is impermissible and we’ll get you sanctioned. So you could do depositions, you can send document requests, where you ask specific requests for the other side to produce documents, you can ask interrogatories, which are questions to the other side that they have to answer on who are their witnesses for trial? What are their damages? Who are their expert witnesses? All these things that you want to know that you get this kind of information before trial, and the discovery is like a big funnel. And what happens is you dump everything in this funnel and it just kind of streamlines down so that when you go to trial, the judge will make a decision on what can be used and what cannot be used. 

So in the discovery process, courts say go for everything. But again, it’s that winnowing in a funnel that you have. In criminal court, it’s completely different. You send your request to the government, and it’s called rule fives, and you ask for everything that is exculpatory, which would benefit your defendant client that you represent, which would show that there is a possibility of him or her not being guilty of the crime or exonerating type of evidence. But you also send and want what’s known as Jenks requests, Jenks material, which is inculpatory, which would be indicative of your client’s guilt. And so when you send out these requests, you want all statements from witnesses at the scene of the accident, all forensic testing, blood testing, gunpowder residue testing, DNA testing, you want to see the clothes everything like that, and all that has to be produced. 

Now a Brady violation is very serious, and that is when the government fails to produce information or documents that are exculpatory, or exonerating, or shows not guilty of the crimes charged, and they are very, very serious allegations. To issue subpoenas in a criminal case, you gotta get court permission. In civil court, I just do it automatically. My assistant gets the form I you know, we sign the document, we send it to a bank or an accounting office or a third party and I put on “see exhibit a” and exhibit a or have like one through eight will list all the different things that I’m asking. And in a criminal case, you would have to get court permission. There’s also no depositions in a criminal case. Now you have an investigator that will go out and hopefully interview witnesses and the witnesses will tell you what they’re going to say, and maybe you get a witness statement and they sign it. But it’s a lot more like trial by ambush in a criminal case than in a civil case. In a civil case when you go to trial you know everything. There were 30 depositions taken, you’ve seen every document, you exchange exhibits. That’s not done in a criminal trial at all. So it’s a lot of trial by ambush. And so that is the difference between discovery in a criminal and civil case and with that EB out.

Please sign into your Premium account then refresh this page to view this content.