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Murdaugh Embargo, Judicial Filibuster, ‘First In The South’ Fail – Week In Review 1/27/2024

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We are now less than forty-eight hours away from a highly anticipated hearing in convicted killer Alex Murdaugh‘s bid for a new trial. The once-prominent South Carolina lawyer – scion of one of the Palmetto State’s most influential legal dynasties – was convicted last winter of murdering his wife and younger son in connection with a maze of multifaceted criminality.

Very few people have been held accountable for their roles in these institutionally enabled criminal enterprises, but a Colleton County jury did find Murdaugh guilty on March 2, 2023 of the graphic murders of his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son – 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh – on the family’s hunting property near Islandton, S.C. on the evening of June 7, 2021.

The verdicts were announced to a waiting world by Colleton County clerk of court Becky Hill, who has since come under fire for allegedly tampering with the jury which found Murdaugh guilty (and, in fact, allegedly conspiring to rig the jury mid-trial).

(Click to View)

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As this process has unfolded, many believed Murdaugh was likely to receive a new trial owing to the deepening hole Hill has dug for herself – and the increasingly conflicted manner in which the allegations against her have been investigated. That calculus changed dramatically two weeks ago when former S.C. chief justice Jean Toal – who has been tasked by current chief justice Donald Beatty with resolving this matter – ruled decisively against Murdaugh on several critical procedural motions.

We saw the first evidence of the impact of those rulings on Friday when Toal questioned the former foreperson of Murdaugh’s jury during an advance hearing scheduled to accommodate the juror’s travel plans.

Unfortunately, we cannot elaborate on that point because we agreed not to report on justice Toal’s questions – or the juror’s answers – due to an ongoing embargo requested by the court. Toal asked reporters not to divulge the details of her questioning until the other jurors had been sequestered ahead of Monday’s hearing – with the goal of shielding them from any potential bias due to the answers provided.

Our outlet reluctantly agreed to the embargo request …

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As we prepare for next week’s big hearing, that reminds me … if you’ve got questions about Monday’s proceedings (or anything related to the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga) be sure to tune into a very special live Q&A featuring myself, research director Jenn Wood and special projects director Dylan Nolan tomorrow evening (Sunday, January 28, 2024) at 6:30 p.m. EST.

To watch the show, just head over to our YouTube page or come straight to the site tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m. EST.

In other news this week, our outlet reported exclusively on a major move by S.C. senator Wes Climer on the judicial reform front. Last fall, Climer vowed to block the corrupt process of state lawmakers choosing judges until there was long-overdue reform of the state’s badly broken judicial selection process. This week, he was as good as his word … and apparently has a huge contingent of senators supporting him as he holds the line.

Good for Climer … it’s about time someone at the S.C. State House held the line on this absolutely critical issue.

Finally, Dylan and I continued our ongoing discussion of presidential politics ahead of the 2024 ‘First in the South’ primary – which is shaping up to be a landslide romp for former U.S. president Donald Trump. Dylan’s crystal ball has been on point through the first two early-voting states – Iowa and New Hampshire – but I pressed him on a few of his predictions during this week’s show.

Trump is clearly headed for a Palmetto State blowout, which reminds me – to read my blow-by-blow recap on the unraveling of former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley‘s GOP bid, click here.

Thanks again to everyone for tuning in and please remember, your support drives everything we do here at FITSNews. As we continue holding those in power accountable – and continue pushing for reforms that enhance accountability at the institutional level – please consider subscribing today!

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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 eight children.

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1 comment

A Name January 28, 2024 at 12:49 pm

Why doesn’t Will Folks want to talk about his affair with Nikki Haley now?

That was the point of the blog to begin with, wasn’t it?

Oh well, the story is out there and has done enough damage to end Nikki’s national ambitions. Fortunately, 1/3 of Republican voters are saying they will sit out this election. While the party withers away in the hands of the crazies…like Will Folks ;-)

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