Crime & Courts

One Murder, Two Defendants: Blurred Legal Lines In South Carolina

“Your duty is to represent one client.”

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Attorney/ podcaster Eric Bland and his law partner, Ronnie Richter, made a big splash in the mainstream media last month when they announced their firm would be “taking on the defense” of a father and son duo charged with murder in Lexington County, South Carolina.

Wait … one firm? Representing two clients accused of the same crime?

Isn’t that an ethical no-no for attorneys?

Bland and Richter later clarified they were only representing the father – 52-year-old Ryan Jordan Lindler, Sr. – while “assisting” in the defense of his son, 26-year-old Ryan Jordan Lindler, Jr. Meanwhile, Bland has since referred to his firm as “consulting” on the younger Lindler’s case.

What do the terms “assistance” and “consulting” mean, though?

First, a quick recap of this case: The Lindlers (both of them) are charged with murder in connection with the December 6, 2023 shooting death of 26-year-old Kevin Lester Newhouse of Lexington, S.C. They are also facing weapons charges in connection with Newhouse’s murder.

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“This all started with the Lindlers confronting Newhouse about a trespassing incident they said happened just before at another address,” Lexington sheriff Jay Koon said in a statement. “Before the three men fought, the Lindlers prevented Newhouse from going back into his house.”

As detectives investigated, they “determined the elder Lindler told his son to shoot the victim.”

“The shooting happened after the elder Lindler had taken a machete away from the victim, who was unarmed when he was shot,” Koon said.

According to Bland and Richter, “a great deal transpired between the time that Kevin Newhouse entered onto the Lindler property and the time that a subsequent confrontation between Newhouse and the Lindlers led tragically to his death.”

Bland and Richter further stated “these cases will test the right of a property owner to protect their property from trespassers and vandals, including those who may bring deadly weapons onto the property of another.”

Wait a minute … aren’t their clients accused of murdering someone with weapons they brought onto his property?

That’s an interesting legal argument …

(Click to View)

Ryan Jordan Lindler Jr. and Ryan Jordan Lindler Sr. as seen in their booking photos after being charged in connection with the murder of 26-year-old Kevin Lester Newhouse of Lexington, S.C. (Lexington County Detention Center)

The Lindlers were granted bond in the amount of $150,000 apiece. Bland’s firm touted its role in securing both bonds in a separate news release, which specifically referenced both men (even though the release misspelled their last name in one place).

This news outlet makes no judgment as to the Lindlers’ guilt or innocence. They are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and to the extent we cover their upcoming legal proceedings we will approach their case from that vantage point. Bland and Richter – who became household names over the last three years given their starring roles in ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ crime and corruption saga – may have some compelling arguments to put forward in their defense. Our outlet will be open to those arguments.

Still, the ethical implications of being involved in the defense of two suspects charged in the same crime raised eyebrows within the Palmetto State’s legal community.

“Your duty is to represent one client,” said Michael Culler, a veteran attorney from Orangeburg, S.C.

According to Culler, Bland needs to clarify his definition of “consulting.”

“What does consulting mean?” he asked. “It could be innocuous. He could be using that word ‘consulting’ to make himself seem more involved than he is.”

Culler said the nature of Bland’s “consultation” matters a great deal when it comes to his ability to effectively represent his client.

“Is he just talking to (Lindler Jr.)?” Culler continued. “Or is he actively participating in his defense?”

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Eric Bland

RELATED | ATTORNEY COULD FACE SANCTIONS FOR PODCAST COMMENTS

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Media covering the case – including WIS TV-10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) and CourtTV – have made no distinction, with both outlets referring to Bland and Richter as representing both Lindlers.

The problem with one law firm representing – or “consulting with” – two defendants charged in the same case? Conflicts of interest. While many joint defenses begin on a copacetic basis – with everyone being “on the same page” – invariably the emergence of new evidence or testimony changes the dynamics of the case. Furthermore, prosecutorial negotiations, court rulings or other developments can quickly turn common interests into competing interests.

Once a firm is involved in representing (or consulting on behalf of) two clients, managing those competing interests becomes impossible.

“You can’t unring that bell,” Culler noted.

South Carolina’s rules of professional conduct governing conflicts of interest speak plainly to these dangers.

“Even where there is no direct adverseness, a conflict of interest exists if there is a significant risk that a lawyer’s ability to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for the client will be materially limited as a result of the lawyer’s other responsibilities or interests,” the rules note.

Also, lawyers cannot pick and choose which defendant to stick with given the duty owed to all of their former clients.

Bland has previous experience in at least one previous murder case – although it did not end well for him. His client was convicted, but was later granted post-conviction relief – specifically a new trial – after it was determined his Sixth Amendment right to “effective assistance of counsel” had been denied.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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5 comments

JustSomeGuy Top fan January 17, 2024 at 11:43 am

Your dislike of Eric Bland is very apparent in your reporting.

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The Colonel Top fan January 17, 2024 at 3:11 pm

What a prize package the “Lindler Gang” is! Family tree probably looks like a bamboo shoot.

Glad you’re pointing out some of the “sideways” dealings that lawyers in SC do – interesting that you’ve started with Bland and Richter… How about the group representing RCSD1 – some interesting things in that relationship! I think that same group is also related to “Elick Murdawk”. There are three or four firms down in Chucktown with interesting relationships if rumors are credible. The old PimPED firm bears a look or two as well.

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SubZeroIQ January 19, 2024 at 12:26 pm

This comment will be long as usual but should be read and reread because it covers many important points.
First, it’s the free market; and the debate is still open whether the market is ethical or not.
FITSNews was at some point sponsored, or planned to be sponsored, by Eric Bland. So, FITSNews puffed Eric Bland up and crucially quoted him anonymously that “there is no bottom to him (Alex Murdaugh [“AM”]) [and] people around him keep dying.”
APPARENTLY, there was haggling over price and FITSNews and Eric Bland parted ways.
Again, it’s the free market: you get what you pay for. If you want effusive praise, you have to pay effusive price. If your stiff your piper, he does NOT play your tune.
And caveat emptor. We the purchasers of journalism on the free market are expected to assess for ourselves what is worthy of our belief and our “buying” monetarily, in the price of our time, and in terms of credibility.
And the truth is NOT ALWAYS somewhere exactly in the middle between two liars. It may be somewhere else entirely.
FULL DISCLOSURE: the name Eric Bland was over a decade ago a hero name to me for reasons too long to explain; and that was reinforced when no less than Dean Wilcox, who recommended Eric Bland to me in 2011 when I met the dean because I needed to file a complaint against then-so-called-judge Marion Oneida Hanna of the City of Columbia’s Municipal Court. My complaint against Hanna was one of the rare ones that ended up being investigated and NOT DISMISSED, although the discipline imposed on Hanna was “private” and not timely reported to me. Suffice it to say, I was never required to appear before that Hanna again; and two of the insane contempt of court pronouncements Hanna had entered against me were VACATED and DIDMISSED by an order of one of the few truly honorable WASP judges remaining in South Carolina (“SC”).
Eric Bland had nothing to do with the success of my complaint against Hanna. In fact, Eric Bland did not even return my call then.
The call Eric Bland did return was in June 2022 to my sister, a nationally-prominent medical specialist resident in another state. Lawyers salivate when they hear “doctor.”
I had given my sister three names and later added Jim Griffin, who had reported success in a different contempt-of-court case, for her to see for herself that no lawyer in SC would represent me when I was facing another contempt-of-court sentence, this time before SC’s supreme court (“S Ct”) itself.
You see, I do not do anything wrong but, thank God, defend myself successfully WITHOUT A LAWYER whenever fake criminal charges are brought against me.
So, contempt-of-court is the last resort of the system to fight me. There, the judge is the literal legislator, judge, jury and executioner. Literally executioner because even one day in the fearsome Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center is without much hyperbole a death sentence for an elderly disabled female.
The not-honorable judges impose on me unreasonable things beyond their authority, then hold me in contempt for ALLEGEDLY not kow-towing to them. And they are so unreasonable that, despite their FALSE promises of transparency, they keep my contempt cases away from public view on SC’s C-Track, including the recording of Hanna’s audio-recorded fits of rage in that so-called court.
But back to Eric Bland, he did apparently salivate at my sister’s title and name and did return her call, to which I was not a party, and talked to her for about an hour in the course of which Eric Bland reportedly mentioned “a donation to the judge’s favorite charity” (apparently now a thing in SC contempt-of-court cases) AND quoted my sister either $89,000.00 or $98,000.00 to represent me in addition to that “donation to the judge’s favorite charity.” My family doesn’t do that. Our donations, when we can afford them, are to the needy, not to the powerful.
Again, free market: Eric Bland was free (within legal ethics) to quote to my sister any sum; and my sister was free to not enter into any contract with Eric Bland.
So, this true story proved to me, and should prove to anyone which common sense, that Eric Bland’s “free” representation of Sanctimonious Sandi Smith (“SSS”) and of four guilty-voting jurors in AM’s two-muder case is NOT out of principle OR out of charity, but SOLELY to make two wrongfull murder convictions stick against AM and to fabricate a murder conviction against Buster for the death of SSS’s teen-age prostitute son who, most likely, walked into on-coming traffic to commit suicide because he was failing his midddling nursing school classes, lacked money for gasoline, and could not REALLY get “rich and powerfull” men interested in his made-up girlish looks and photos with pouting lips.
In fact, AM’s truthful testimony in his two-murder trial included his report of his mistrust of SLED because they STILL fail to publicly exonerate Buster in SSS’s son’s case even after having CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE that Buster has nothing to do with SSS’s son’s death.
That, of course, did not stop Eric Bland, from using his “free” representation of SSS to throw stones at AM and at Buster.
But I repeat that Eric Bland’s worst violation is that of Rule 4.5, which I paste hereunder, and which he PUBLICLY BRAGGED about violating by giving interviews DURING AM’s two-murder trial to the effect that Eric Bland “strategized” with the Prosecution every trial day from 6:00 am to 8:00 am.
I have no clue why no lawyer in the length and breath of SC dares report Eric Bland for violating that Rule 4.5:
RULE 4.5: THREATENING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION
A lawyer shall not present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present criminal or professional disciplinary charges solely to obtain an advantage in a civil matter.
Comment
This Rule is not included in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The language of this Rule is based upon DR 7 105 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Reply
SubZeroIQ January 21, 2024 at 8:12 pm

Why not here, too?
If you read it under other articles, ignore it here. If you didn’t read it elsewhere, here it is:
Thank God, Ron DeSanctimonious is giving us at least a four-year rest from his xenophobia. Hopefully, Sanctimonious Sandi Smith (“SSS”) will now give us a permanent rest from her Murdaugh-phobia.
Because I have no more free articles left this month, and because articles like this one strengthen my resolve to NOT subscribe to FITSNews, I need to post here my comment on FITSNews’ latest Week-in-Review, specially now that Ron DeSantis has just dropped out.
But before I do, three more things:
(1) DeSantis cannot be Trump’s VP pick because the Constitution requires the President and the Vice President to be from different states; and Trump has officially made himself a Floridian more than two years ago.
(2) Those South Carolina politicians DeSantis has gathered to attack Haley must now have much egg on their face. I always knew that “southern gentleman” BS was code for incompetent white male who feels most threatened by a female of some color. And parenthetically, Nikki needs some color, not melanin but hemoglobin. She is getting too thin and pale for her own good. A little self-care, Nikki! Learn from Simone Biles; but do not take a whole season, just a week between Nevada and South Carolina.
(3) Not that I support “corporatism” or war hawks. But isn’t a corporation BASICALLY a mom-and-pop business which “grew up”? The differences between FITSNews and FOX News are the generation and the size; but each started as a small LOCAL news operation
Now to my post on WIR:
Why should Nikki Haley drop out if she does not win New Hampshire, or even South Carolina for that matter?
It’s a great big country out there; and not all of it thinks like Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina.
Heck! Not even Georgia or North Carolina thinks like South Carolina.
The REAL math: Nikki Haley can rout Trump if you add the blue bicoastals (they have Republicans, too, but of a different kind) and even some of the OTHER heartland.
“First in the South” does NOT mean “first AND LAST in the South.”
If Mahatma Ghandi had given up the first time the British refused to evacuate India, India would still have been a British colony today.
You guys do not understand immigrant perseverance.

Reply
Eileen Sembrot January 29, 2024 at 11:34 pm

Thanks for your coverage of this article. I was a COJ member for about 2 years before Bland took this case. I moved here from NJ to fight racism and property rights in SC has many nasty roots in slavery. And, I know, I know, everyone deserves a defense, but I truly despise thinking about two men who shot an unarmed man on his own property while he was on the ground having such a ferocious lawyer like Bland. He blew his first, and last murder defense. Let’s see how this one goes.

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