FITSNews Studio: Jack Swerling Talks Murdaugh, Judicial Reform & Greg Leon

The dean of South Carolina defense attorneys shares his perspectives …

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As a fledgling journalist, I’m not offended when the notable people I cover can only pay me limited time and attention. When I set out to cover the murder trial of prominent South Carolina restauranteur Greg Leon last summer, I didn’t expect any of the key players to give me much thought.

I have no formal journalistic education, but as a lifelong news-hound I have strong opinions on what makes an article worth reading. Since video recording of the Leon trial was forbidden, my coverage was an attempt to give readers a front-row seat in the pews of the Lexington County courthouse.

My goal was to accurately recount the facts and legal battles as I saw them, and in an effort to confirm the accuracy of my reporting I communicated after court with both S.C. eleventh circuit solicitor Rick Hubbard – whose office prosecuted Leon – and defense attorney Jack Swerling.

I was prepared to shoot straight – regardless of how either party might view my work – and didn’t hesitate to convey the gravity of the evidence presented against Leon as the state made its case. To my surprise, the day after I published an article about the mounting evidence against Leon, his attorney enthusiastically took me aside to tell me he had received many compliments on a photo I had captured of him conversing with a colleague while court was in recess.

Here’s that photograph …

(Click to View)

Jack Swerling (Via: Dylan Nolan/FITSNews)

I was more surprised when he told me it was one of the few photos of him smiling …

Swerling, who advocates vigorously on behalf of his clients, is a sincere and kind man who brightens the faces of those around him (when he is not involved in legal competition). Capturing this side of the famed attorney was essential to giving our readers a true window into the trial.

A good photographer doesn’t point their camera at the right place at the right time, but rather understands the very essence of the subject they’d like to capture – and does everything in their power to make sure the image conveys that essence.

Capturing this image was only possible because I saw the essence of Swerling’s character, the geniality and authenticity so rare in other men at the top of their fields – and I believe Swerling appreciated that I saw that side of him.

(Click to View)

Dylan Nolan shooting photographs at Greg Leon’s trial

After the trial, Swerling has been kind enough to stay in contact with me – and has been generous with his time as we’ve discussed a wide range of legal matters relevant to my reporting. I always thoroughly enjoyed our conversations, and often think how much the FITSNews audience would have appreciated hearing the discussion after our calls.

When an opportunity to interview Swerling presented itself, I was thrilled to accept it.

During our conversation, we discussed convicted killer Alex Murdaugh’s bid for a retrial, the intricacies of trying a case with a client who acts against the advice of counsel, the Greg Leon case and the broader issue of judicial reform.

I was a fledgling print journalist when I covered Leon’s trial – and am still a fledgling long-form interviewer. Hopefully my questions were worthy of my subject – and hopefully our audience enjoys listening to our conversation as much as I enjoyed sitting down with Jack.



(Via: Travis Bell)

Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.



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Squishy123 (the original) February 5, 2024 at 6:14 pm

If you have an accounting degree, why are you working as a reporter for a 3rd rate blogger? Is this a wise career move?

Katie Top fan February 6, 2024 at 8:10 am

If you got nothing nice to say, just don’t say anything at all!

paige ward Top fan February 6, 2024 at 10:08 am

Haters gonna hate…. they just can’t help spreading their venom & obvious unhappiness. They troll the internet for triggers. Such a sad commentary of our society. Go Dylan Go!

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VERITAS Top fan February 5, 2024 at 7:56 pm

Nice piece. The interview with attorney Swerling was excellent. Try to smile, Dylan. Your future is looking bright. Appreciate your being on staff at FITS NEWS, who does it like no one else in South Carolina. Hope you bring Swerling back sometime.

tamara rhodes Top fan February 6, 2024 at 6:44 pm

Really well done interview w/ a man I have always admired.

Karen Cole Top fan February 6, 2024 at 9:01 pm

Good job, Dylan! More interviews, please!


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