Eric Bland gives thanks this Thanksgiving day and discusses why he believes compromise is necessary for justice.


Happy Thanksgiving Premium Members. Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite holidays of the year fall is by far my favorite season of the year. I love football, I love the change of leaves. I like some, sometimes a nice, cool, cold, rainy day to just hang out with Renee inside the house. Thanksgiving is such a great holiday because, you know, you get together with family, we usually invite friends, and it’s an all day affair. We wake up, we go to the gym, then we do either a run-oh, of course, I can’t run anymore because of my knee surgery. But we’re going to do a walk tomorrow five mile walk. And then just to see my daughter who’s coming back. She’s in her surgical residency and hear from my son who works for one of my clients in the finance department. And just thankful you know that I got a wonderful family. And we got a new edition, Coco Bella, this year for Thanksgiving. So we’re very, very thankful for her. On a broader scale. I’m extremely thankful and grateful for the COJ listeners in the fans of True Sunlight and Luna Shark Productions. We would be nothing without you and you guys are resilient. You’re loyal, you’re dedicated. You motivate us, you motivate me definitely to, you know, keep marching full speed ahead.

I was just at a bakery around the corner and I posted a photograph of one of our listeners named Jeannie who was turning 60 years old, she recognized me and then I got on the phone with her sister. And you know, just to hear the enthusiasm about the work that we’re doing. It makes it so grateful. I’m thankful to be an American. I’m grateful that we live in relative peace and harmony, just thankful that we live in a country where we respect each other. So I just want to tell everybody to have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy who you’re with. And I want you to think positive thoughts. Don’t eat too much, get your exercise.

Now switching gears; Since the last weekly update, something monumental happened and that is last Friday at the status conference in front of Judge Newman in connection with whether there was going to be a motion to change venue or a motion to continue the Satterfield criminal trial in state court that was scheduled for November 27. Alex Murdaugh pled guilty to 22 financial crimes and this has been in the works for the better part of the month. If you listen to the COJ episode 56 this week, I disclosed that I had been in discussions with Creighton Waters for the better part of the last month about possible plea discussion, plea agreements being reached. Creighton didn’t think it would be reached I didn’t think it would be reached because the defense was not willing to play to anything that would give Alex any more than 15 years. If you listen to the episode, this was probably one of the rare ones where Liz Mandy and I disagreed. Liz and Mandy were on the side of that they were disappointed with the decision to accept the plea of guilt in return for the certainty of 27 years.

I talked about the need in our system for plea agreements, and that this was a very, very strong plea that was entered into by Alex in return for a very strong 27 years. And what that means is that Alex will have to do 85% of his time in a state maximum security prison. Alex is 54 years old. And most, most men who have served more than 15 years beginning in their 40s, don’t live beyond 67 years old. So Alex is going to serve 85% of his time has no chance for parole, we agreed to that. And there’s no appeal. So assuming that there’s no reduction for Alex being a snitch while he’s in prison over the next 85% and 27 years, like 22 years or whatever, he’s going to essentially, probably die in state court that’s irrespective of the double murder conviction. They are seeking to overturn those. But if that stands, then he’s got to double life plus this. But it is going to run concurrent, which means at the same time, as any murder sentence, so don’t forget, there’s still the federal court plea of guilt that Alex did on September 20, where Judge Gergel needs to sentence him and he they’re doing a pre sentence report right now. And I suspect that that’ll be done in the sentence will be sometime in January or February of this coming year. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Judge Gergel loads him up. I think he’s going to load them apart. Because Judge Gergel faced a lot of scrutiny for the lighter sentence that he gave Cory Fleming for him playing to one count. And so if Alex gets off the murder case, they give him a new trial. And somehow he gets a not guilty verdict or a hung jury and they don’t retry him, then he’s going to do these 22 years in state prison. And if he lives to be 76 years old, then he’s going to march right out of state prison and do that federal time, the Judge Gergel is going to give him in two months. So Alex Murdaugh is never going to see the light of day again, outside of a prison wall. Usually the federal sentences are consecutive with state sentences, I don’t think it’s going to be a concurrent sentence running at the same time. And don’t forget, there’s the labor day shooting case that’s still out there. And that’s a felony charge. So in return for the certainty of a guilty plea, the certainty of a very long sentence. I know that in the grand scheme of things when we talked about 900, potential years of sentencing for Alex Murdaugh, 27 years does not seem a lot. But when you look at white collar crimes in state court, this is one of the highest if not highest, white collar sentencing that I’ve ever heard of. And Harpootlian was insistent that he was never going to let Alex plead the 27 years and I gotta give credit to Creighton Waters, and Attorney General Allen Wilson, they never varied off the 27 to 30 band of sentencing that they were going to offer, they wouldn’t lower it, they kept telling her poorly, and we’re not going to lower it, and they stood their ground.

Some people feel like that Alex got off easy I understand that. It’s very traumatic for these victims to have to go through these trials. More importantly, it’s trauma traumatic for jurors to have to be sequestered. And that’s what was going to happen in this trial, to give up their lives and be sequestered, it’s a very costly endeavor for each of the counties. Now, Beaufort County is a wealthy County, but some of the other counties where these trials, financial trials were going to have to take place or not wealthy counties. And it’s a tremendous financial burden on these counties, because they have to bear the costs of the trial, not the state. More importantly, some of the small counties only have one or two terms of court a year. And so if Alex is going to be tried on a two or three week case, because great motors forecast that the selection of the jury in the upcoming Satterfield case, could take a week and a half even longer than it took in the murder case. Then these trials could go on for two and three weeks. And there’s other criminal defendants who are languishing and in jail waiting for their cases to go to trial.

But don’t don’t forget, Alex is going to be sentenced for what he did now. Whether Judge Newman accepts the twin the seven year sentence which I suspect he will, Alex is going to get an earful and so are his lawyers because the sentencing is next Tuesday, November 28. And I will be speaking and some of the victims will be speaking and you can be assured rest assured that I will tell Alex, man and man I exactly what I feel about him exactly what my clients feel about him, what the victims feel about him the carnage that he calls the his predator behavior, the fact that he preyed on vulnerable people, I will talk to his lawyers about how they distorted the system and how they traumatized the Satterfield boys and how just incredibly insensitive it was for him to exploit. People that had disabilities were like Brian Harriet, my client Gloria Satterfield’s son, and others who were quite vulnerable, because they lost a loved one or they had a loved one that was injured. So Alex is going to get a tongue lashing, I’m going to give it to such a point that it wouldn’t surprise me if I’m told to sit down. Or even possibly, greater punishment than that, I have a lot to say that I’ve wanted to say I’ve never had the opportunity to address him. And so I will. But this isn’t the end with Alex Murdaugh. You know, there’s a probability that there could be other charges coming down the pike, we have no idea what may come of Cousin Eddie, and what his cooperation would be. And we don’t have any idea what Corey Fleming may be doing. But we have this federal court sentence coming after the first of the year. And we still have that Labor Day shooting case.

So you know, the system works by having compromises. And compromise is not a dirty word. I know it’s a dirty word today in politics and in business and other settings, you know, you know, everybody’s got to win. And if you don’t win outright, then you’re a loser. That’s not true. I do a lot of civil law. And when we mediate a case, and there’s a civil settlement, we mediate it and we settle. Everybody leaves unhappy, the person who’s paying money thinks they paid way too much. The person who’s getting money thinks I didn’t get enough. That means the system works. That means there was compromise. Every case that is brought either in a civil context or a criminal context can’t be tried. I mean, there’s there’s over 6,000 cases, pending in Richland County, just on the civil docket alone. Forget about the criminal docket. And the criminal docket always takes precedence over the civil docket. So our system works by compromising and plea agreements are a compromise. The state feels like they should have gotten more time for Alex. And then Alex feels like I should have gotten less because you know, I am saving the state all this money by not having the Pinckney case tried separately than the Satterfield case. And then the Badger case and Tommy Moore’s case, the patrolman that Alex stole $125,000. So the system could never function without settlements or plea agreements. And it’s not a dirty word. This is a big sentence. It’s going to effectively keep Alex in prison for the rest of his life. I hope it’s a hard life. I hope he’s doing hard time. And I’m going to talk to him about that, in addition to judge Newman saying that Maggie and Paul are going to visit him every night for the rest of his life while he’s in his cell and not visit him in the way that Alex would think. These victims, the Hakeem Pinckneys, the Gloria Satterfields, the Brian Harriet’, the Arthur Badgers, the Jordan Jenks, his closest friends since he was a kid, who he took and $108,000 from you know, the it’s funny if you listen to his plea agreement, and in the comments that he made, he said, I wrongly took money. No, not wrongly took you stole. He said, I misrepresented facts. No, he lied. So we’re going to tell him exactly who he is and what he did.

So I don’t want to get off on a kind of hateful rant right now. It is Thanksgiving. So I’m going to kind of bring it back in. I want everybody to have a great Thanksgiving for a couple days. Let it go. Focus on your family if you’re going through a difficult time try to muscle through it. Focus on the happiness in your life. And then on Monday, get up, dust up and tackle what’s ever in front of you. So, I’m so grateful for you guys. I’m so thankful and I’ll speak to you soon.

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