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Murdaughs

Murdaugh Saga: Lawyer Battle Rages On

“Small buckets of balls?”

As prosecutors at the state and federal level spar over the remaining criminal charges pending against convicted killer Alex Murdaugh, attorneys for the family of Gloria Satterfield – Murdaugh’s late housekeeper – have filed a bizarre motion in one of the many Murdaugh-related civil cases.

Laden with odd golfing references, the pleading – submitted this week by attorneys Eric Bland, Ronnie Richter and Scott Mongillo – reads more like a snarky podcast script than a viable legal brief seeking to address recent chess moves made by Murdaugh’s lawyers, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin.

“Team Murdaugh have stumbled late on the judicial first tee with a small bucket of balls and with the apparent attempt to fire shots until they finally hit the fairway,” the motion (.pdf) stated, vowing to “expose the many whiffs, slices, tops, blocks, chunks, hooks and duffs that have so needlessly wasted this court’s time.”

Whiffs? Slices? Tops?

I’m sorry … is this a legal argument? Or an advertorial for a “set of better clubs?” You know, the “kind with tiny nubs?” Just so my irons aren’t always “flying off the back-swing?”

Hmmm …

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“Obviously, Murdaugh is not a golfer,” the motion continued. “Neither are his lawyers. There are no mulligans. Like a spoiled child, (Murdaugh’s) motion is overindulged and undisciplined.”

Undisciplined? You mean … like a court filing implying one’s rival attorneys have small testicles?

Let’s dispense with all the petty ‘Mean Girls’ sniping and get to the facts of the case, shall we? To recap: Satterfield collapsed on the front stairs of the Murdaugh hunting estate – known locally as Moselle – on the morning of February 2, 2018, sustaining multiple serious injuries. She died three-and-a-half weeks later at a hospital in North Charleston, S.C.

In an effort to pull off an elaborate insurance scam, Murdaugh convinced insurance investigators of two key points: 1) That Satterfield’s fall was caused by his family’s dogs, and 2) That Satterfield was at his home that morning not to come to work, but to pick up a check from another Murdaugh family member.

These assertions – neither of which were ever proved – were essential to establishing 1) That Murdaugh was legally negligent in connection with Satterfield’s death, and 2) That Satterfield’s death did not stem from a “workplace accident.” Based on those two “facts,” Murdaugh and his alleged co-conspirator, Beaufort, S.C. attorney Cory Fleming, were able to steal millions of dollars from Murdaugh’s insurance companies, Lloyd’s of London and Nautilus.

This scam was later exposed, however, and Murdaugh – who confessed judgement to Satterfield’s heirs in the amount of $4.3 million – was criminally charged for his fraudulent acts (both at the state and federal level). So was Fleming. Additionally, Bland, Richter and Mongillo have obtained civil settlements totaling at least $7.5 million from other parties who were suspected to have potential liability in connection with this incident.

(Click to view)

Attorney Eric Bland (Bland Richter)

Now, Murdaugh is belatedly admitting he lied about the dogs tripping Satterfield – and seeking to vacate his confession of judgment. Bland and his fellow attorneys are not only pushing back against those efforts, but they claim they are entitled to sanctions against Harpootlian and Griffin for “the further victimization of the Satterfield family.” Specifically, they are seeking “reasonable costs and attorney’s fees” along with a “reasonable fine to be paid to the court” and a “reasonable monetary penalty to the party or parties defending against (their) frivolous action.”

Okay … but is any of that actually “reasonable” under the circumstances, though? What precise “victimization” do Bland, Richter and Mongillo believe entitles them to another Murdaugh-related pay day?

According to their pleading, Harpootlian and Griffin have facilitated the “depravity of mind and sheer balderdash” of Murdaugh – who is continuing to make a mockery “of his prior profession and the administration of judgment itself.”

That may be true … but a fundamental problem remains for the Satterfield lawyers. After acknowledging in their brief that Murdaugh has “manufactured so many mistruths, it becomes difficult to keep it all straight,” they continue to insist the serial liar told the truth on the one occasion that benefited them to the tune of millions of dollars.

In other words, the truth never once escaped Alex Murdaugh’s lips … except for that time it made Bland, Richter and Mongillo boatloads of money.

Despite the self-serving nature of their “advocacy,” Bland, Richter and Mongillo do not appear to be in any danger of losing the loot they made off this case. To my knowledge, no one has credibly claimed the Satterfield case were invalid. Courts may eventually conclude they were, but no one here is saying that.

“Frankly, I think putting this toothpaste back into the tube will be next-to-impossible,” I noted last month.

(Click to view)

Gloria Satterfield headstone
The headstone of Gloria Satterfield, a housekeeper for the Murdaugh family who died on February 26, 2018. (Provided)

Ironically, it was Bland who was “worried about his clients having to (cough back up) the money … which they would have to do if the claim was fabricated from the start,” according to our October 2021 report.

Again, though, no one has made anything resembling a credible argument for recoupment of any of those settlement funds … at least not yet.

The drama does, however, call into question the ability of state prosecutors to present Bland as anything resembling a credible witness in any upcoming criminal trials … which I believe was the point of all the recent “Team Murdaugh” maneuvering. In fact, the voluminous motion filed this week – while heavy on golf metaphors – was noticeably light in responding to Harpootlian and Griffin’s allegation that Bland leveraged Murdaugh’s confession of judgment as an “enticement” to keep them from roasting their client at an upcoming bond hearing.

Specifically, Harpootlian and Griffin accused Bland of engaging “in a concerted campaign of prejudicial and extrajudicial statements, as well as inflammatory rhetoric in the courtroom when Mr. Murdaugh sought bail, and then offered to stop when Mr. Murdaugh again sought bail if he would simply confess judgment for a ’symbolic’ amount of ‘monopoly money.’”

And yes, they are seeking sanctions, too …

Bottom line? In both the criminal and civil arenas, the Murdaugh saga continues to devolve. What was once a genuine pursuit of truth and justice has – sadly, but predictably – become a prosecutorial pissing contest on the criminal side and a craven hustle by less-than-principled members of the plaintiffs’ bar on the civil side.

It’s no longer about truth. Nor justice for victims. It’s about ego ... and money.

No wonder fewer and fewer people are tuning into this show?

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THE FILING …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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8 comments

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VERITAS Top fan June 8, 2023 at 9:30 am

I agree with the Satterfield attorneys that Murdaugh, Harpo and Griff are making a mockery of the justice system. Murdaugh made a confession of judgment regarding Satterfield. Harpo and Griff know that Murdaugh is a career criminal and very disturbed, but they’ll keep going as long as they can cuz there’s money to be had, and Murdaugh has nothing else to do but pick his teeth clean and suck snot.

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Greenway Cyclist Top fan June 8, 2023 at 9:56 am

Has Liz Farrell been added to the legal team? This reads exactly the way a certain scripted podcast sounds. I agree it is not a professionally written legal document. While I am totally against Murdaugh and his attorneys, it continues to amaze me that Eric Bland is sacrificing his professionalism and legal reputation in his associations. Ego and publicity have destroyed many before.

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william foster Top fan June 8, 2023 at 11:24 am

probably not smart to write a legal brief with the intent to please any audience other than the judge

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The Colonel Top fan June 8, 2023 at 4:15 pm

Bland is a bit of a tool (actually, he’s a bit of a toolbox) but he and Richter make some excellent points in their filing. The only reputations being destroyed in this debacle are “HarpoGriffin’s”. Pooty Poot has probably permanently destroyed his already questionable legacy. The idea that this 1/2 of the clown car was a “powerful” defendant’s attorney is beginning to look like so much hype. And Griffin, Jeezelouise, dude, you weren’t viewed as a clown car passenger until you got hooked up with Harpo and “Elick”. I know an attorney who described his first experience in court with Griffin as “…an ass whipping, and it was my ass that got whipped…” who is now wondering what “Murdawk” has on him.

The idea that Bland/Richter are in any ways the bad guys here is simply self serving. Yes, they’ve made a little money, but for the most part, the money has come from the very guys who should have kept “Elick” from running amuck in the SC legal and banking systems. The idea that the Satterfield family has any liability in this slow moving dumpster fire is simply wrong – all of the money Bland/Richter has recovered on their behalf has come from the idiots who allowed “Elick” to screw them. “Elick” stole the money from the insurance companies. Bland/Richter bullied it out of the people who should have ensured “Elick” paid the Satterfields (including PiMPED, Nautilus and Lloyds). Those folks willingly paid to avoid being taken to court and body slammed even harder.

I appreciate that you continue to follow this case but you’ve got this issue completely wrong.

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Tired and Retired June 8, 2023 at 4:25 pm

I enjoyed reading the 35 page brief with 19 exhibits, and believe it was of PGA Tour quality. In it the attorneys for the Satterfield family explain in detail why the attempt by the Murdaugh lawyers to set aside their own client’s confession of judgement on grounds that he is an admitted liar is a Whiff, a Slice, a Top, a Chunk, a Hook, a Duff, a Block, and Out of Bounds! They seek sanctions against the Murdaugh lawyers for filing a frivolous motion. What they have done is counter a ridiculous motion with ridicule, and they did so with total effectiveness.

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SubZeroIQ June 9, 2023 at 9:09 am

The conclusion of that response and motion for sanctions (“response”) is as shocking as its beginning and illustrates why it should be stricken as scandalous. But it otherwise offers unwitting proof of Alex Murdaugh’s (“AM”) innocence of the double murders.
Response always refers to Tony Satterfield and Bryan Harriot as the Satterfield “boys.”
Legally and factually, these are not boys but grown men, one of whom is fully gainfully employed; and the other is apparently not a Satterfield at all whether by blood or adoption. And even if he were, he chose to go by Harriot; and the lawyers who claim to represent him should have honored that choice of his.
Response concludes “their mother died in [AM’s] home.” She died of a heart attack in a hospital 24 days after having fallen UNWITNESSED in what was then AM’s and Maggie’s property.
Response concludes AM’s hand “literally” reaches from the grave. AM is in prison, not in a grave unless Satterfield Team have a hit on AM in prison.
The only interview of Maggie Murdaugh says she was TOLD by Satterfield’s family that the dogs had tripped Gloria.
Response includes NO EVIDENCE of any further investigation by Nautilus’ lawyers after the claim or by whatever any entity which paid the Satterfields $7.5 MILLION MORE than the $4.3 MILLION what Nautilus and Llyods of London paid to Chad Westendorf for the Satterfields.
There is NO FREE MONEY. It all gets passed to hapless consumers one way or another, whether through high insurance premiums, high bank fees and interest, or even high attorney hourly rates if they use part of it for malpractice insurance to be paid for fake claims.
The whole thing smacks of blackmail. Those $7.5 Million, which were paid, according to Response, BEFORE the confession of judgment, ERGO before the double murder trial, should be made public AND INVESTIGATED. Who paid them? To whom? For what? AND what judge approved them in WHAT LAWSUIT?
Most significantly, Tony Satterfield’s testimony that he received NOTHING for his mother’s death was FALSE or misleading at best. On that ground alone, AM should receive a new trial.
We live in a new prosecutorial-mafia era where money is being extorted in return for non-prosecution OR after wrongful prosecution. Sadly, some of the naive public supports that in dreams of getting on the game, too. The pot is finite, however, and extremes are always self-defeating.
AM finally woke up to the fact that there is really no honor among thieves; and it is time for all the thieves to be court-compelled to tell on each other so that their REAL victims, the consumer public, be compensated.

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Jay June 9, 2023 at 10:10 am

I think Will is starting to sound jealous and might be in bed with “Team Murdaugh”

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Gina June 10, 2023 at 5:55 am

Slam dunk, Jay!

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