If there’s one paradox we can rely on with the Murdaugh Murders Saga, it’s that nothing is ever as it seems — while everything is usually exactly how it looks.
Newspaperman John Monk at The State reported Monday evening that there’s been yet another judicial shuffle with the (frivolous, according to many) federal lawsuit filed by Alex Murdaugh’s ”bulldog attorneys” last week to stop the public release of their client’s phone calls from jail.
The ‘dogs filed the suit after FITSNews and the Murdaugh Murders Podcast published transcripts and audio excerpts from eleven of Murdaugh’s calls, which we received through a Freedom of Information Act Request from Richland County.
The calls gave the public a closer look at Murdaugh’s machinations from behind bars and, as it turns out, directly contradicted many of the claims that have been made by his attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, in an effort to gain his release from jail.
This could explain why they want to stop any more tidbits from coming out (see this piece by FITSNews founding editor Will Folks, ”There Must Be Something Really Bad In The Next Round Of Alex Murdaugh’s Jail House Calls”).
Predictably, after Murdaugh’s suit was filed, ham-fisted courtroom drama has ensued …
It’s only been a week and already three federal judges have been assigned to the hear case – and then reassigned away from the case.
And now there’s a fourth.
U.S. district court judge Michelle Childs — who was recently in the running for a potential nomination to the supreme court — will preside over the case, according to Monk.
Before that, Monk recalled, there was judge David Norton of Charleston (he was assigned to the case before Childs, on Monday). Norton replaced judge Mary Geiger Lewis (who was assigned the case last Wednesday). Lewis replaced judge Bruce Howe Hendricks of Greenville.
No explanation was apparently given for these reassignments.
One possible reason for the shuffling, though, might be that judges must remain impartial — and any appearance to the contrary (such as previous relationships and other connections to the parties in the case … which there are, according to Monk) is a problem.
Let’s hope there’s a fifth judge waiting on the bench, because it turns out we might have one of those problems.
NPStrategy, the public relations company that helped Murdaugh (attempt to) put a shine on his name after his wife and son were murdered this past summer is also the firm that helped judge Childs in her bid to become the next Supreme Court nominee.
Why is this a conflict?
A few reasons.
The first is that NPStrat is wholly owned by the powerful law firm Nexsen Pruet, which used to employ Childs.
Then there is the tight South Carolina Democratic political circle of which NPStrategy, Murdaugh, Childs and Harpootlian are members.
Should involvement in a political party matter in this situation?
Yes. South Carolina is a very Republican state, which — some might argue — places Democrats into much closer quarters, where they would ostensibly form tighter relationships.
And finally, according to sources, Childs’ campaign for Supreme Court nomination was funded, at least in large part, by the South Carolina Association of Justice — whose president in 2016 was … Alex Murdaugh.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Liz Farrell is the new executive editor at FITSNews. She was named 2018’s top columnist in the state by South Carolina Press Association and is back after taking a nearly two-year break from corporate journalism to reclaim her soul. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her @ElizFarrell.
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