Crime & Courts

Suspension Of Two Lowcountry Lawyers Raises Eyebrows

Are they tied to broader investigations?

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Over the past two weeks, the South Carolina supreme court has issued two suspensions in the Lowcountry region of the Palmetto State that have raised eyebrows. The suspensions came at the recommendation of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) – an ostensibly independent entity which operates under the court’s auspices.

The ODC is “primarily tasked with screening and investigating all of the complaints made against both judges and lawyers in South Carolina.” It is also responsible for “prosecuting those judges and lawyers who have either committed ethical misconduct, or are suffering from a physical or mental condition which adversely affects their ability to serve the public.”

Our outlet published an extensive report on the agency earlier this year …

On November 30, 2023, St. George municipal judge David Lamar Little Jr. was indefinitely suspended (.pdf) by the court from practicing law – and suspended from discharging his official duties as a judge. Of interest? The phrasing of his suspension, which expressly prohibited Little from entering the “premises of the municipal court unless escorted by a law enforcement officer after authorization from the chief justice.”

Little was additionally prohibited from “having access to, destroying, or canceling any public records, and from access to any judicial databases or case management systems.”

Details relating to Little’s suspension have been kept under wraps, the order indicates Little’s finances could be under review as he was further enjoined from having access to – or making withdrawals from – any trust, escrow and/or operating account(s) in his name.

According to a report from Ali Rockett of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, St. George mayor Kevin Hart said he received a cryptic call from the judge on November 21, 2023 indicating Little needed to take six weeks of personal leave and would be “out of touch” for the first two weeks.

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Next, on Monday (December 11, 2023), an order (.pdf) suspending Hilton Head-based attorney Peter J. Strauss was published by the high court. Strauss — a high profile lawyer and the founder and chief executive officer of Strauss Global — is an expert in captive insurance management. Sources have indicated Strauss’ suspension is tied to a broader investigation of corruption in the Lowcountry.

In 2016, a segment on 60 Minutes detailed the potential for criminal activity tied to captive insurance funds. Whether Strauss’ suspension is tied to such chicanery is not yet known, but given his expertise – and a recent report by FITSNews founding editor Will Folks relating to the ongoing search for convicted killer Alex Murdaugh‘s missing millions – the timing is interesting.

In addition to his suspension, Strauss is also facing a legal malpractice lawsuit (.pdf) filed in Beaufort County by his ex-wife, Mackenzie Strauss, following a contentious divorce. According to the lawsuit, Strauss allegedly obtained his wife’s agreement to transfer their marital assets into a trust without informing her that his involvement was a conflict of interest – or of his intention to withhold assets from her if they divorced. A curious clause of the trust agreement Strauss allegedly compelled his wife to sign indicated that if he committed adultery which led to a divorce the trust language would allow the him to claim his wife was no longer a beneficiary of the trust containing their joint assets.

Quite a deal, right?

The lawsuit also claimed that once the trust was created, Strauss treated these assets and businesses as if he had legal title to them — including signing a $10 million loan, “signing mortgages, using the equity in those assets to develop real estate, purchasing real estate, deciding on income distributions from the businesses allegedly owned by the trust, and purchasing jet airplanes.”

A motion for summary dismissal was recently filed by Strauss and his legal team – which was opposed by his ex-wife’s attorneys. They stated that substantial discovery was necessary to oppose Strauss’ motion for summary judgment. What that substantial discovery might be is anyone’s guess, but given Strauss’ penchant for off-shore accounts – and his known skills and knowledge of money management – things could certainly get interesting.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at jenn@fitsnews.com.

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2 comments

Kidd Top fan December 14, 2023 at 5:04 am

WoW! What a real piece of shit!

Reply
JustCallMeAva Top fan December 14, 2023 at 8:04 am

Wonder how much of the Murdaugh purloined millions are sitting in an off-shore bank account somewhere?

Reply

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