Murdaughs

‘Unqualified’ South Carolina Judge Seeks To Fast Track Murdaugh ‘Outrage’ Case

Supreme court urged to intervene as judge accused of “preferential treatment” tries to advance lawsuit prior to his ouster …

Embattled South Carolina circuit court judge Bentley Price – the poster judge for dispensing excessive leniency to violent offenders in the Palmetto State – is attempting to fast track a case involving an attorney who amassed fame and fortune during the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.

Price is attempting to fast track an action tied to the 2019 boat crash lawsuit involving the Murdaughs and multiple other defendants – even though the judge was found unqualified by a state judicial screening committee and denied another term on the circuit court bench as a result.

Desperate to keep Price on the case? Mark Tinsley – the attorney representing the family of the boat crash victim, the late 19-year-old  Mallory Beach of Hampton, S.C.

Beach – a 19-year-old from Hampton, S.C. – perished in the early morning hours of February 24, 2019. She died after a 17-foot, center console Sea Hunt fishing boat owned by Alex Murdaugh – and allegedly piloted by his late son, Paul Murdaugh – slammed into a piling near the Archer’s Creek Bridge outside of Parris Island, S.C. Seconds before the boat crashed, GPS data obtained by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) indicated the vessel was traveling at a speed of approximately 29 miles per hour (or approximately 25 knots).

Four passengers – and Murdaugh – made it out of the water following the crash. Beach did not. Her body was discovered a week later by fishermen.

(Click to view)

Archer’s Creek Bridge as seen from the skies above Beaufort County. (Provided)

Paul Murdaugh and others on the boat were in a “grossly intoxicated” state at the time of the crash, according to responding law enforcement officers. To quote the late Randolph Murdaugh III – one of three Murdaughs to hold the post of S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor between 1920-2006 – Paul Murdaugh was “drunker than Cooter Brown” at the time of the crash. And despite alleged obstruction efforts by his father, Paul Murdaugh was eventually hit with multiple criminal charges in connection with the incident.

Those charges – and a civil suit filed on March 29, 2019 by Beach’s family – initiated a series of events that brought down the once-powerful “House of Murdaugh,” a family legal dynasty which ran the Palmetto Lowcountry like a fiefdom for nearly a century.

Indeed, Beach’s death was also the driving narrative in ‘Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal’ – a smash hit documentary that premiered on Netflix on February 22, 2023 and exposed the Murdaugh family and its dark secrets to an international audience.

The boat crash lawsuit settled last summer – but a separate “outrage” case alleging misconduct by one of the corporate defendants is still pending. That lawsuit – filed in December 2021 – focuses on the unauthorized disclosure of confidential mediation materials by those allegedly in the employ of wealthy Savannah, Georgia convenience store magnate Greg Parker, founder of the Parker’s Kitchen chain of gas stations.

It has spawned allegations of unauthorized disclosures by Tinsley as well …

(Click to view)

Mark Tinsley, Allendale-based personal injury attorney walks away after testifying in Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Friday, February 10, 2023. Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool

Parker’s attorneys have repeatedly sought to have Tinsley dismissed from this lawsuit – arguing he improperly received and reviewed privileged information and materials. Tinsley has also been accused of improperly disclosing privileged information – and engaging in improper communication with a party represented in one of the cases.

Tinsley has been very successful in his appearances in front of Price. And now that Price’s tenure on the bench is drawing to a close, Tinsley is hoping to have him hear as much of this complex action as possible prior to him stepping down. Parker’s attorneys are pushing back, arguing a new judge should be appointed because the case will “extend much farther beyond the end of judge Price’s current term.”

In a filing submitted to the high court last month, Parker’s attorneys asked for a writ of prohibition against Price – as well as a stay of the case. According to their filing (.pdf), Price has made “inconsistent rulings” in this matter which have been subject to “corrections” by the high court.

“There are a number of reasons to question judge Price’s impartiality and qualifications to continue to preside as the assigned judge in this case,” the filing noted.

Among them? Price’s recent disqualification by the S.C. Bar Association and the S.C. Judicial Merit Selection Commission (SCJMSC), which according to the filing raised concerns about his temperament as well as “his competence as a jurist, and his preferential treatment for certain counsel.”

Preferential treatment for certain counsel … like Tinsley.

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Price was also rapped for dragging his feet on the matter … only to kickstart the process once he was deemed disqualified by the SCJMSC.

“Despite the fact that Judge Price has been presiding over this case for almost two years, very little has actually happened in this matter so far,” the filing noted, adding “there has been almost no discovery taken in this case and almost no movement on motions.”

“Months (and, indeed, years) have elapsed since the filing of these motions — and judge Price has failed to indicate why he now believes these motions to be pressing and require a hearing within the next several weeks,” the filing added.

Count on this media outlet to keep our audience up to speed on the supreme court’s decision regarding the writ of prohibition – and the bid to stay this case – sought by Parker’s lawyers. Also, count on us to keep our audience up to speed on the other saga which has the potential to ensnare Price in the months to come.

Finally, stay tuned for an update on how this story is linked to a recent tweet about an undisclosed conflict of interest on the part of a former employee of this media outlet.

UPDATE | Price stands down …

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THE FILING …

(S.C. Supreme Court)

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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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3 comments

Rakish Top fan February 3, 2024 at 3:09 pm

So what is the big deal here? Was it wrong for Price to award Tinsley’s client damages for the boat crash killing? Should he have taken a dive instead and dismissed it? The civil case against Parker, which he sat on for how long, does it have merit? So Tinsley was a hero and now a villain? Really think this is just bait in the turgid waters to stimulate clicks and titillation….

Reply
SubZeroIQ February 3, 2024 at 4:41 pm

This is NOT the full story. The full story can ONLY be understood in light of:
(1) Mark Tinsley’s TRANSCRIBED statement to Judge Price that there WAS A SECRETLY-PLACED CARMERA at Moselle at the time of Paul and Maggie’s murders AND that SLED either had that camera OR knows about it;
(2) The texts between Mark Tinsley and Sara Cappelli, where Sara BASICALLY admits that SHE got Paul killed but Mark Tinsley goes on to end Sara’s career as a private investigator; and
(3) What Becky Hill wrote in her book about Mark Tinsley and his daughter, Emma Tinsley, a hunter whom Mark trained to shoot since her early childhood. Emma Tinsley’s and Mark Tinsley’s FaceBook pages show how much Emma’s shooting skills improved AFTER Paul and Maggie’s murders.
No, the cases against Gregg Parker were never that strong; neither the one already settled nor the one still pending.
Now that I mentioned Emma Tinsley’s improved shooting skills, I pray she does not practice them on ME.

Reply
Happy Jack Top fan February 4, 2024 at 2:10 pm

The problem with the Honorable Bentley Douglas Price is the proclivity toward playing favorites. He played favorites in the case with Mr. Tinsley by refusing to rule on whether documents were privileged and if so would not be subject to being turned over. The SC Supreme issued a rare writ of mandamus which is fancy latin for hey Judge Price do your job. Before issuing the writ Justice Few explained how to do a privilege review and gave Judge Price 15 days to do so and even held off on issuing the writ. Again, Judge Price refused to heed instruction and instead of doing his duty he did Mr. Tinsley a favor. His choosing friends over duty was exactly the focus of the testimony against him at his JMSC Hearing. His response to this testimony was that of a fragile tyrant. Clearly Paylor, Pepper and McCoy will miss him dearly on the bench but for the rest of us his time on the bench can not come fast enough!

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