In a shocking turn of events, Alex Murdaugh, the South Carolina lawyer who was convicted in March of murdering his wife and son, is now claiming that he is a victim of a corrupt judicial process. His lawyers have filed a motion seeking a new trial and an FBI investigation, alleging that the court clerk, Rebecca Hill, engaged in misconduct during the trial.
According to the court filing, Murdaugh's lawyers claim that Hill had inappropriate conversations with jurors and manipulated them during the trial. They allege that Hill told jurors not to be fooled by Murdaugh's tearful testimony and had private conversations with the jury forewoman, including one in a courthouse restroom. They also accuse Hill of fabricating a story about a Facebook post by another juror's ex-husband in an attempt to have that juror removed.
One juror has filed an affidavit supporting these claims, stating that Hill told jurors at the beginning of deliberations that "this shouldn't take us long." Murdaugh's lawyers also allege that Hill told the six smokers on the jury that they could not take a smoke break until after they reached a verdict. The trial itself lasted nearly six weeks, but the jury only deliberated for three hours before convicting Murdaugh of two counts of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison the next day.
Murdaugh's lawyers have not only sought a new trial, but they have also asked the US attorney in South Carolina to have the FBI investigate whether Hill violated Murdaugh's constitutional rights by depriving him of a fair and impartial trial. They claim that Hill's actions were motivated by a desire for a book deal and media appearances, pointing to her book, "Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders," which she published in July.
The actions alleged in the motion have raised eyebrows among legal observers, with some calling them highly inappropriate. Bruce A. Green, a law professor at Fordham University, stated that if the allegations are true, they would be improper and would likely lead to a factual inquiry by a judge. He noted that jurors are not supposed to discuss a case, even with one another, before formal deliberations begin, let alone discuss it with a court clerk.
Rebecca Hill, the clerk of court for Colleton County, where the trial was held, has not responded to requests for comment. She was elected to the position in 2020 and her term ends next year. Since the verdict was handed down, Hill has maintained an unusually high profile for a court official, even standing on the courthouse balcony with her dog immediately after reading the verdict aloud in court. She has also engaged with the lead prosecutor on the case on Twitter and published a book about her firsthand account of the trial.
The motion filed by Murdaugh's lawyers includes passages from Hill's book, which they claim show her bias and potential manipulation of the jury. They argue that Hill may have pushed jurors toward a conviction in order to secure a book deal and media appearances for herself.
In response to the motion, the state attorney general, Alan Wilson, stated that he is reviewing the filing and will respond through the legal process. Meanwhile, Murdaugh's lawyers are holding a news conference to discuss their findings and allegations.
This latest development adds another twist to the already complex and controversial case of Alex Murdaugh. Convicted of murder and facing charges of financial impropriety, Murdaugh is now seeking to have his conviction overturned based on these allegations of jury tampering. The outcome of this motion and any potential investigation by the FBI remains to be seen, but it is clear that the case continues to captivate public attention and raise questions about the integrity of the legal system.
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