EB has a lot to unpack this week as we look to Alex Murdaugh’s federal sentencing on April 1. On EB’s Weekend Update, Eric Bland talks about Alex Murdaugh’s financial victims’ state court receiver matter, the Colucci civil case and two new terms in EB’s Law Library…


Good morning Premium Members. EB here for our weekly weekend update. I’m a little under the weather, I battled the flu all week. Tough stuff. I thought I was on the tail end of it and seem to have gotten a little bit of a relapse. But the weekend’s coming up so I am looking forward to just getting a little bit more rest. 

A lot has happened this week. Some interesting things, we got notice from the federal court that Alex Murdaugh’s sentencing for his September 2023 plea of guilty to 22 federal crimes is coming up in April, and there’s going to be a ton of April Fool’s jokes, I believe, between now and the hearing on April 1 because Alex’s hearing is on April Fool’s Day. It’s at 10 o’clock in the morning in front of Judge Richard Gergel, federal court judge in Charleston, South Carolina. Luna Shark will absolutely report on it. I’m going to be there. I’ll be speaking on behalf of a lot of the victims that Alex took advantage of, specifically the Satterfields, the Plylers, Jordan Jinks, Sandra Manning–who is the sister of Gloria Satterfield–and several others. 

So looking forward to finally putting the last chapter on the available sentences for now against Alex Murdaugh and what that would mean is that assuming that the two murder convictions remain, now he’s up on appeal, he has two double life sentences. So he’s never getting out of prison based on the murder charges if they stand. If the murder charges are reversed, and he’s going to get a new trial somewhere down the road, he has 23 years of definite state court current prison time for the state crimes that he pled guilty to and he’s already serving for, those are the financial crimes that he plead guilty to. And he agreed to serve 23 years. That’s with parole eligibility, it was originally a 27 year sentence. So there is no parole eligibility down. It’s just a downward sentencing from 27 to 23, assuming that it’s on good behavior, so under the best circumstances he’s like 54-55 years old now. So when he gets out at 78 years old, because he’s going to have to serve every bit of that day, assuming that he can live through and navigate the hard waters of maximum security prison, of tough food, tough people, bad health care, or health care that’s not as good as you can get on the outside, when he steps out, if he’s that old, he will go immediately to federal prison because that is the sentence that is coming up with Judge Gergel and Judge Gergel, as you know, gave sentences to Russell Laffitte, which was a little shy of eight years, and Cory Fleming that is currently serving his federal court time, he gave less than 48 months. We do know that Cory is going to be serving another nine years when he gets out of federal prison based on the state guilty pleas that he gave in front of Judge Newman. We don’t know yet how much time Russell Laffitte is going to have on the state level because he has not pled guilty and seems to want to go to trial on the state court Grand Jury charges. But we don’t know when that trial is going to be scheduled. 

So April Fool’s is going to be when it ends for Alex and I would suspect that Judge Gergel is going to load him up. He’s going to treat him differently than he treated Russell Laffitte and he treated Cory Fleming and so that will be the butt and end of if he can live the seventy eight. And the fact of the matter is that Alex has never had a free breath of fresh air from the day that we argued for his to be denied bond in the Satterfield cases in October of 2021, he has never had a fresh breath of air and he will never get one for the rest of his living life. So that is going to be a momentous occasion. I expect that it’s going to be well attended, the media will be there. So that came out yesterday. 

Also what came out yesterday is the other victims in the state court receiver matter, remember the in the state court in the Mallory Beach case, Judge Hall named John Lay and Peter McCoy as co-receivers to go find all the assets of Alex Murdaugh and bring him in the court. And they’ve found about $1.7 million of assets after they took out fees and costs. And so everybody who was a victim made application. And as you know, the Satterfields and the Plylers, we made application on their behalf, and they were given $0 by the special referee Walt Tolleson who was appointed by the court to allocate all these funds. 

We’ve made, as you know, a motion to reconsider. We disagreed with special referee Tolleson. We don’t think it was fair, equitable, and just that the Satterfields and the Plylers got $0. And yesterday, in a joint response, attorney, Wallace Lightsey on behalf of his client PMPED, he filed on behalf of PMPED’s Johnny Parker, who is a former partner at PMPED and now the major partner in the Parker Law Group, the Mallory Beach family, the estate of Mallory Beach and then Arthur Badger. Wallace Lightsey  filed a brief on behalf of all four of those entities and clients objecting that special referee Tolleson reconsider his decision and grant the Satterfields or the Plylers any money. In their briefing they contend that the Satterfields got more than they should have gotten actually. Publicly, we have said that we’ve recovered more than seven and a half million actual dollars plus the confessed judgment of Alex Murdaugh at $4.3 million. We were forced by the court to finally admit the total amount that we had recovered, and that was always to be confidential, that was by the defendants who paid this money only gave us permission to ever say publicly that we recovered more than $7.5 million. We actually from a combined number of sources of law firms, individuals, banks, recovered $9.3 million. And they contend that that’s enough money for the Satterfields. Obviously, there’s not enough money that can ever pay the Beach family for the loss of Mallory. They contend that Arthur Badger is due additional monies, in addition to the $1.3 million that he was given in 2021 that Alex had stolen from him. And Johnny Parker claims that he has not gotten any money on the money that he had loaned Alex Murdaugh. So we’ll wait and see what special referee Tolleson does, and I will comment at that time.

We have some other things that are coming up. We’re going to record a COJ episode this week and we’re going to talk about the Colucci trial coming up. My firm actually was involved in the civil portion of the Colucci matter; there was a trust matter and I need to look at the resolution documents to see how much I can talk about that and I will talk about that in the weeks to come. The Colucci case is very, very interesting. It’s the wife appeared to be strangled either by her actions on her own or by someone else. So that’s going to be an interesting trial that’s coming back up in May in Charleston. Andy Savage, a great defense attorney, is representing Mr. Colucci. So we will talk about that. 

I also have an announcement to make and that is my EB website, that’s separate and apart from Bland Richter is now live and it’s at TheEricBland.com. And what’s interesting is it talks about different things that are coming up but mainly the book that’s coming out in a couple of months, I just got the final draft that we’ve been working on. And I gotta spend the weekend on that so I’m really excited. The title is called Anything But Bland. On that website, you will see there’s, you know, different things about speaking engagements, my fun merch section, so go and take a look at that. We’re really excited about that. 

And with that, we will move in and put our law hats on. We will go over to the Law Library and we’re going to talk about two terms: exculpatory evidence, and we’re going to talk about hearsay. The second subject hearsay is a very  complicated evidentiary subject that is often misunderstood. So we’ll spend more time on that but exculpatory evidence is evidence that exonerates a defendant from the crimes that are charged, or what he’s accused of doing, or she. And that just simply means that there is evidence out there, whether it’s an alibi evidence, whether it’s DNA evidence, whether it’s fingerprint evidence that the government has that they’ve obtained, that actually exculpates or exonerates or clears the name of that defendant. 

There is also what’s known as inculpatory evidence and so inculpatory, as you can imagine, is that would point to the guilt of the defendant for the crimes charged and that could be matching fingerprints, matching hair prints, matching blood, DNA, you name it. That it would show that the person who’s charged is more likely and guilty of the crime charge because of the evidence. So prosecutors often will turn over all the inculpatory  evidence and sometimes on the exculpatory evidence you gotta fight tooth and nail and what you do is you file a Rule Five motion, which is a considered a Brady motion, for discovery material and that is all inculpatory which is known as jenks material, J-E-N-K-S, an exculpatory material, which is known as Brady material be provided. And so that means all recordings, Confessions statements, anything recovered, has to be provided to the defense so that the person who is charged has sufficient due process to be able to defend himself or herself. So, exculpatory evidence just simply means good evidence that’s going to clear you have the crime. 

Hearsay, we often hear what hearsay is, it’s very difficult to define. And what hearsay is, there are exceptions to somebody repeating what somebody else said. So if I’m in the back lawn and I say, hey, Sam said that she saw Eric shoot that person. Well, that would be hearsay, that wouldn’t come in because you don’t have the ability to really cross examine that statement. Now, if I, the defendant, make a statement, that’s called a statement against interest or an admission by a party. Those always come in, a defendant who makes his own statements, those statements always come in So hearsay is that next level. And there are exceptions to the hearsay statement, meaning there are exceptions when hearsay statements can actually come into the proceeding. They can come in if they’re not used to prove the truth of what you’re trying to say. You’re not trying to say, bring it in to show that Eric committed the murder, but it’s brought in for another reason. That’s a hard way to get it in. The other way is, if it’s a res gestae, if somebody’s dying and they’re about to meet their Maker–res gestae is an attack is a Latin term which means, you know, it speaks truthfully, it’s probably a truthful statement because no one’s going to lie the minute that they’re about to die and go meet their Maker, so that’s another. Spontaneous utterance, it’s another exception. There’s multiple exceptions under the rules of evidence under Rule 800: 801 through 804. And hearsay is a really important thing, because you want to get statements in. 

There’s also statements that, let’s say somebody makes and then they die, and then the person who’s being charged with a crime or in a civil case is trying to use the dead person’s statement to either exonerate them or prove a point, the law may not let that in. Because if you have a personal interest in the outcome of that matter and if you have a personal interest in using the statement of the dead person, the court won’t let it in because there’s no way to cross examine the dead person. Did you really tell Eric that Eric is going to get the family farm or did you really tell our tractor after you die is going to be his? There’s no way to cross examine that dead person. There’s exceptions for hearsay, if it’s the court taking judicial notice of certain events, like the Treaty of Versailles was signed on X date, or armistice was signed on this specific date, they can take notice of clear dates, things in the public record that are easily proven by going to that thing. It’s an extremely, extremely complicated evidentiary rule of law; hearsay. As a lawyer practicing 36 years, I understand it. But you have to be on guard during a trial or during a deposition always to object when somebody’s relaying a statement that was made to them by somebody else, that should immediately click in your head. I gotta object and then you come up with an explanation of why that hearsay is not admissible. And so we’ll talk more on COJ about hearsay but it’s a very interesting evidentiary subject. You hear it all the time on TV: “oh, that’s hearsay that doesn’t come in,” and most of the times you can get it in it’s it’s an area of evidence that you got to know if you’re a trial lawyer because you can get really whipsawed with it by somebody who’s good at using hearsay and getting in in a way that would be detrimental to the opponent. 

So with that said, EB out. Everybody have a great weekend.

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