Murdaughs

Clerk Of Court Scandal: Becky Hill’s Murdaugh Book Pulled Amid Plagiarism Allegations

Sales to “cease immediately …”

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The hits keep coming for embattled Colleton County, South Carolina clerk of court Becky Hill – who has found herself at the center of a mushrooming scandal that many believe could result in a new trial for convicted killer Alex Murdaugh.

However, before we can get to an evidentiary hearing on allegations that Hill tampered with Murdaugh’s jury during his double homicide trial earlier this year – or consider whether the alleged tampering deprived Murdaugh of his right to a fair trial – Hill cannot seem to avoid stepping in scandal.

According to an exclusive report from John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, the co-author of Hill’s book is claiming she plagiarized portions of their now-infamous volume, Behind the Doors of Justice. In fact, the co-author – who only days ago was zealously defending Hill’s integrity – is claiming the clerk has confessed to lifting another author’s writing for her own purposes.

“(She) admitted she plagiarized the passage due to deadline pressures,” he noted.

In a news release sent to media outlets on Tuesday morning, Hill’s co-author – Augusta Business Daily publisher Neil Gordon – stated a joint decision had been made to cease sales of the book due to Hill’s apparent plagiarism of the work of BBC reporter Holly Honderich.

The news release did not mention Honderich by name, it merely referred to her as “the BBC reporter.”

(Click to View)

News release from ‘Behind the Doors of Justice’ co-author Neil Gordon. (Provided)

“The co-authors of the book ‘Behind the Doors of Justice‘ have made the difficult decision to unpublish the book and cease sales,” the release noted.

Gordon said he discovered his co-author’s “ethical gaffe” as he was reviewing “thousands of pages of Hill’s emails released to reporters through the Freedom of Information Act.” Those emails were first published by our media outlet last Thursday.

Hill issued a statement through her attorneys – Justin Bamberg and Will Lewis – indicating she was “deeply remorseful” about the allegation, for which she accepted “full responsibility.”

“The pressures of developing additional content under tight time deadlines resulted in Ms. Hill taking material written by BBC reporter Holly Honderich and submitting it to her co-author Neil Gordon as if it were her own words,” Bamberg and Lewis noted, adding Hill had “personally reached out to Ms. Honderich to express her sincere apologies.”

“Ms. Hill has great respect for the tireless work journalists do every day and sincerely regrets using Ms. Honderich’s words as her own,” the statement concluded.

At the time of Gordon’s press release, this media outlet was in the process of investigating the plagiarism allegations involving Hill – which were first made on a December 21, 2023 thread posted to social media platform X.

Take a look …

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How did the admitted literary theft go down? According to the emails, Honderich accidentally forwarded a draft of an article to Hill instead of one of her editors – also named Rebecca. Upon realizing the error, Honderich wrote Hill asking her to disregard and delete the email.

Hill promised she would do so.

“I will do that,” she wrote back to the reporter.

Instead of deleting it, though, Hill forwarded it on February 21, 2023 to a local newspaper publisher. Several passages from the excerpt subsequently wound up in her book …

From Honderich’s article entitled “On the twelfth day of his murder trial, Alex Murdaugh looked bored”:

“Mr Murdaugh sat hunched at the defence table in the second-floor courtroom of the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina. He wore a dark blue suit, white shirt, and no tie, his thin, rimless glasses perched on the very end of his nose. Sometimes he looked up at the witnesses testifying ahead of him, but mostly he looked down. Months in prison had whittled down his formerly heavy frame. Once a towering figure, now Alex Murdaugh looked small.”

From Hill’s Book:

“On the twelfth day of his murder trial for the death of his wife Maggie and son Paul, Alex Murdaugh looked bored as he sat hunched over at the defense table in the second-floor courtroom of the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina. He wore a dark blue suit, a white shirt, and no tie while his thin, rimless glasses perched on the end of his nose. Sometimes he looked up at the witnesses testifying ahead of him, but mostly he looked down.”

From Honderich’s article:

“For nearly a century, the Murdaugh family dominated this small pocket of South Carolina – a flat expanse of marshlands, palm trees, white clapboard churches, and porch-ringed homes. Three generations of Murdaugh men had served as chief prosecutor of the local judicial circuit, a 3,200 square mile stretch in the state’s south, while running a private litigation firm that made them rich.”

From Hill’s Book:

“For nearly a century, the Murdaugh family dominated this small pocket of South Carolina—a flat expanse of marshlands, palm trees, white clapboard churches, and porch-ringed homes. Three generations of Murdaugh men had served as chief prosecutor of the local judicial circuit, a 3,200-square-mile stretch in the state’s south, while running a private litigation firm that made them rich.”

Monk’s story in The State contained several additional examples of the acknowledged plagiarism.

“This has blindsided me,” Gordon claimed in his statement. “Journalism has been my life’s work; my credibility and integrity are paramount to everything I do. I can’t be associated with anything like plagiarism and will no longer partner with Becky Hill on any projects. I’d like to apologize to our readers, and publicly to the BBC and the reporter.”

As recently as three weeks ago, though, Gordon and his wife – photographer Melissa Gordon – were partnering with Hill in an effort to whitewash the book’s website and limit access to a social media group used to promote it. This purge was effectuated by Melissa Gordon and took place on December 2, 2023 – one day after our media outlet published a detailed look inside two recent ethics complaints filed against Hill.

(Click to View)

Neil and Melissa Gordon (Facebook)

In an email exchange obtained by this media outlet (dubbed “BDJ website”), Melissa Gordon told Hill and her husband that she “unpublished” the book’s website at Hill’s request (i.e. “as you requested Becky”). Gordon also hid the book’s promotional Facebook group – making it “invisible” to anyone who was not a member.

“The only other option for the Facebook page would be to delete it, and that of course would not look good,” Melissa Gordon wrote.

“All sounds great,” Hill responded. “Thank you.”

While Hill and the Gordons clearly collaborated to shut down the book’s website – and to simultaneously block public access to a social media group they were using to promote the book – the emails released last week indicated behind-the-scenes tension between the co-authors in the aftermath of the jury tampering allegations.

In a message to Thad Moore of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier dated September 13, 2023 – a week after she was first accused of jury tampering – Hill told the reporter “if you will wait on me, just a couple more days, I will be prepared to talk.”

“Please do not talk to Neil Gordon without me,” Hill added. “We have asked him not to talk without me, but as you know, he isn’t listening.”

Hill promised Moore that her story “will be worth the wait.”

To recap: Hill’s office oversaw Alex Murdaugh’s six-week double murder trial earlier this year – an international spectacle which has been referred to as the ‘Trial of the Century’ in the Palmetto State. Murdaugh, 55, a disbarred attorney and confessed fraudster from Hampton, S.C., was found guilty of the graphic 2021 murders of his wife – 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh.

Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before handing down their verdicts.

Hill was the one who announced Murdaugh’s guilty verdicts to a waiting world on the evening of March 2, 2023. The following day, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman handed down a pair of life sentences in the case.

Those verdicts are potentially in jeopardy as Hill has found herself at the center of a metasticizing scandal.

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Hill’s son – Jeffrey “Colt” Hill – was arrested last month by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for allegedly wiretapping another county employee at his mother’s behest. He has been charged with “willfully and feloniously intercepting electronic phone communication.”

Hill’s cell phone was seized by investigators in connection with the criminal probe of her son.

As for Hill, she is staring down a pair of S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) investigations. One is focused on allegations that she “unethically and potentially unlawfully” used her office to enrich herself by obtaining and releasing confidential information during Murdaugh’s trial – some of which appeared in her book. A second investigation is focused on claims that Hill misappropriated public funds from multiple accounts under her purview– and then allegedly misrepresented those misappropriations to county officials.

SLED is also investigating the jury tampering allegations against Hill, which will be heard at some point in the new year by recently appointed former S.C. chief justice Jean Toal – who was tapped last week with handling the case after judge Newman recused himself given his status as a potential fact witness to the allegations.

Both of Hill’s ethics cases – and the wiretapping charge against her son – have been referred to the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson. Wilson’s office prosecuted Murdaugh for the murders of his wife and younger son – and for his myriad financial crimes. In addition to deciding whether to refer the cases to a statewide grand jury – as he has been asked to do – Wilson must also decide whether he and his staff are potentially conflicted in the Hill matter given their starring role in the Murdaugh verdicts.

Hill and her allies have been caught in several lies as they sought to insulate her from the fallout from these investigations.

As we noted last week, additional ethics charges could be forthcoming once investigators see the extent to which Hill appears to have used taxpayer time – and government resources – to plan, promote and enrich herself from sales of the book.

As for the book itself, the emails obtained by this media outlet showed she and the Gordons sent each other (and others) drafts of chapters – and draft cover artwork – over the clerk of court’s taxpayer-provided email address.

The real news in the midst of this continuing madness seems to be a clear split between Hill and her co-author – one of her most ardent defenders in the face of the jury tampering probe (and in the aftermath of the ethics complaints filed against her).

Toal has tentatively scheduled a hearing on the jury tampering allegations for Monday, January 29, 2024. Count on this media outlet to keep our audience in the loop on the very latest developments ahead of that hearing.

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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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18 comments

Mina Harrington Top fan December 26, 2023 at 2:57 pm

This is NOT good AT ALL!! At this point, I wouldn’t trust this woman about anything. It really makes me angry about the whole thing.

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The Colonel Top fan December 26, 2023 at 4:08 pm

Stilll ain’t seen any proof of jury tampering.

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SubZeroIQ December 26, 2023 at 8:31 pm

The lead guilty-voting male juror received “thousands of dollars” from unknown sources DURING THE TRIAL to stay on the jury instead of returning to work and getting replaced by an alternate.
That’s on pages 56 to 60 of Becky Hill’s now-withdrawn book.
Is that not enough jury irregularities for you?

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Lee Snell Top fan December 26, 2023 at 5:41 pm

Sounds like Becky Hill is qualified to be the president of Harvard University.

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SubZeroIQ December 27, 2023 at 9:02 am

Your very clever comment deserves a reality check.
Harvard is not all that principled or all that devoted to freedom of speech or even to diversity.
The REAL reason Harvard and all those “elite” schools allow anti-Isreal demonstrations is that a substantial segment of their full-tuition-paying students (as opposed to students on scholarships and/or students who receive financial aid) come from Arabic-speaking OPEC member countries.
If a similar-size segment of Harvard’s full-tuition-paying students came from Israel, the word “Palestine” would have banned from the Harvard campus.
As to diversity, the hypocrisy of choosing Claudine Gay over the scholar whose work Claudine plagiarized is that, to fill diversity quotas, it is not the most deserving minority who is USUALLY chosen but the most vulnerable one. That is the one who has skeletons in his/her closet and can be pressured to walk the institution’s line, whatever that line is on a given day.

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Goody3 Top fan December 26, 2023 at 6:12 pm

This whole thing has been SO disheartening, as both Jenn and Will have admitted. To have made such unique and close friendships with Ms. Hill over the course of Trial #1 – a cauldron of reporters with ‘big’ names at both the defense and prosecution tables – just to see it all disintegrate into the current pending charges and resultant investigations is pretty devastating.

Makes one question just about everyTHING and everyBODY. And NOT easy to continue objective reporting.

Yet, they do. And I say “kudos” to both of them. I will continue to follow FITSNews’ reporting.

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SubZeroIQ December 26, 2023 at 8:42 pm

I shall, God willing, “chapeau bas” to Will and Jen only if and when they admit, and apologize for, their own roles in setting Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) for wrongful murder convictions.
Jen and Will came up with that willing prostitute who pretended to be “sex-trafficked” and spun from thin air a story of AM choking her.
When that was too incredible even for John Meadors, Jen Wood came up with the “family annihilator” idea and most everyone, including Creighton Waters, parrotted her.
Jen and Will’s hands are not that clean.
And to gain publicity for his then-unknown blog, Will was not above fabricating a story that must have inflicted much pain on Nikki Haley’s children by suggesting to them that their mother was unfaithful to their father.
It’s a dirty world all around.

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NYT Best Cellar December 27, 2023 at 8:39 am

The fun part about the Nikki Haley story is that it doesn’t really matter if Will was lying or not. Either way it’s a wrecking ball to his character and morals. I mean, which would you trust more, an adulterer or a serial liar?

I guess Will can’t be accused of plagiarism since his tell-all book hasn’t come out… yet!

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SubZeroIQ December 27, 2023 at 9:10 am

Will “plagiarized” one of history’s oldest stereotypes about immigrants (or foreigners): the foreign man is a thug or a spy; and the foreign woman is a slut or prostitute.
Had Will been a contemporary of Marie Curie, he would have made up a similar story about her. Perhaps even some contemporary of Marie Curie made up similar stories about her.
That is the way of the world.

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JustCallMeAva Top fan December 28, 2023 at 1:39 pm

And Alex Murdaugh is still guilty of murdering his wife and son. None of this Becky Hill mess has anything to do with jury tampering. Jim & Pootie have tried to push any number of false talking points along the way to exonerate their guilty client (and keep bringing in the big bucks). They should have to share a cell with him too.

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J Monday Top fan December 27, 2023 at 12:48 pm

Ms. Hill has done some sketchy stuff, but ZERO evidence of jury tampering. Even in the 2000 emails (which never should have been released).

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SubZeroIQ December 27, 2023 at 2:39 pm

A male guilty-voting juror received, according to “Ms. Hill’s” book pages 56 – 60, “thousands of dollars” from undisclosed sources to stay on the jury (instead of returning to work and being replaced by an alternate) is not sufficient jury irregularities for you?
BTW, in the SLED-obtained affidavits, one juror said he spoke to Becky Hill about his (that juror’s) financial hardships in staying on the jury instead of returning to work. Every indication is it is the same one-and-only male juror who flew with “Ms. Hill” and her “plus one” (her daughter with singing ambitions) to New York all-expenses-paid-by-NBC right after sentencing.
If that still is not enough for you, read her book (if you can still find a copy). You and/or others may find in it even more disturbing stuff than I did.
That may be the real reason they are taking it out of print: when people are infected with stupid arrogance, they think no one will catch their contradictions until the stupidly arrogant bump into the real world of globalized knowledge.

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VERITAS Top fan December 28, 2023 at 9:12 am

Quotes from “Behind the Doors of Justice,” pp. 59-60:

“One of the twelve original jurors . . . almost didn’t serve because of the financial burdens he would be under. Option 1: Serve on the jury. Help decide the ‘Trial of the Century.” Risk jail time for lack of child support payment. Option 2: Stay at regular job and pay child support. Maintain his freedom.

“Judge Newman … asked the juror to take a day and think about whether he (the juror) could serve …

(Becky Hill) “was present in Judge Newman’s chambers when the juror came back the next day and said, ‘I received an unexpected blessing.’ Three close friends of the juror chipped in and paid the financially strapped juror his regular salary. For all six weeks of the trial! Several thousand dollars.”

Three friends – not some anonymous person bribing a juror. This juror voted to convict, along with 11 jurors, because the case was overwhelmingly proven beyond reasonable doubt.

SubZeroIQ, take a chill pill and tell the truth instead of your incessant nonsensical ramblings.

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Lizzie0714 Top fan December 28, 2023 at 10:31 am

Veritas, I have questions that maybe you could answer….
1. How far along into the trial was it when the child support guilty voting juror was trying to get out of jury duty?
2. How did his 3 close friends know how much money to donate to him to cover exactly 6 weeks worth of salary for the trial?
3. How delinquent on child support payments does one have to be in South Carolina to face jail time? I feel like a month and a half delinquent isn’t going to cause one to face jail as a consequence, especially when you have a valid excuse like jury duty that is documented. No payment plans available for back pay in SC? What if he had been sick or hospitalized with Covid? Straight to jail for him! C’mon people!
4. Was this juror delinquent on CS payments prior to serving on the jury? Did the financial blessing from his 3 close friends cover prior delinquent payments as well?
5. Did the financial blessings only cover CS payments or did they cover all living expenses for 6 weeks?
6. Is there a record of the exact dollar amount he was blessed with?
7. Why is Becky reporting a juror’s private financial business in her gossip memoir? I’d sue her if I had been a juror and she published my financial business without my consent. Did she have this juror’s written consent? Seems highly unethical at best and should be illegal. I would be terrified to be a future juror in SC if I had to worry about court clerks putting my private financial hardships in their published book. IMO, this should be added to the ethics complaints.

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SubZeroIQ December 28, 2023 at 12:36 pm

Thank you, Lizzie0714!
I hope so-called Veritas can answer your brilliant questions without insulting you too, which (s)he always does to me.
But one of your questions I can answer; and the answer is the U.S. Supreme Court case of Turner v. Rogers, which proves that Becky “Boo” Hill, not only violated that juror’s privacy, but was also “BS-ing” in the process and should have known better because that case arose of nowhere else but South Carolina.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued March 23, 2011
Decided June 20, 2011
Full case name Michael D. Turner v. Rebecca L. Rogers
Docket no. 10-10
Citations 564 U.S. 431 (more), 131 S. Ct. 2507; 180 L. Ed. 2d 452 (2011)
Argument Oral argument
Decision Opinion
Case history
Prior Defendant convicted at trial (Oconee Cty Fam. Ct.); affirmed sub nom. Price v. Turner, 387 S.C. 142, 691 S.E.2d 470 (S.C. 2010); cert. granted, 562 U.S. 1002 (2010).
Holding
The Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, while it does not require a state to provide counsel at civil contempt proceedings to indigent individuals, even if incarceration is a possibility, does require some safeguards to prevent the erroneous deprivation of liberty. South Carolina Supreme Court reversed and remanded.
Court membership
Chief Justice John Roberts
Associate Justices Antonin Scalia · Anthony Kennedy Clarence Thomas · Ruth Bader Ginsburg Stephen Breyer · Samuel Alito Sonia Sotomayor · Elena Kagan
Case opinions Majority Breyer, joined by Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan
Dissent Thomas, joined by Scalia; Roberts, Alito (Parts I–B and II)
Laws applied U.S. Const. amends. VI, XIV
Turner v. Rogers, 564 U.S. 431 (2011), is a case that was decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 20, 2011, relating to the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. The Court held that Turner was not entitled to a public defender in cases regarding family nonsupport. However, in cases in which a state is not required to provide counsel, it must provide some other safeguard to reduce the risk of erroneous deprivation of liberty in civil contempt cases. The particular case the Court took under review was a child support payment case and the point of contention was the process of the defendant’s income determination by the court.

I am NOT a lawyer; but I can safely say “No, it is NOT straight to jail without a hearing to show the excuses for delinquencies.”

Thanks again for your interest and God bless.

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VERITAS Top fan December 28, 2023 at 9:14 pm

You and SubZeroIQ can do your own research.

SubZeroIQ December 28, 2023 at 12:18 pm

I couldn’t have said it better than Lizzie0714, whom I applaud enthusiastically and thank sincerely.
So-called Veritas, please read Lizzie0714’s reply and respond to it if you can.

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NJgal January 6, 2024 at 10:23 am

Hills book is still available on Amazon – wow!

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