Crime & Courts

Embattled South Carolina Judge Withdraws From Murdaugh ‘Outrage’ Case

Supreme court taps Greenville judge to hear increasingly contentious action after Bentley Price stands down …

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South Carolina circuit court judge Bentley Price – who had another busy week putting violent defendants back on the streets – withdrew abruptly from a civil case involving a lawyer who amassed fame and fortune during the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.

Price’s decision to stand down was announced by the S.C. supreme court just days after our media outlet exposed his attempts to fast track this high-profile case involving Hampton, S.C. attorney Mark Tinsley, an attorney who has fared exceedingly well in front of the scandal-scarred judge in the past.

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

His efforts shortly after we reported on it the judicial machinations last Friday …

“Because the case is still in the discovery phase and judge Price’s term as a circuit court judge ends in June of this year, (Price) will be unable to preside over the case until its completion and has requested to be removed from the case,” an administrative order (.pdf) from S.C. chief justice Donald Beatty noted.

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“(Price) has requested to be removed from the case …”

-S.C. chief justice Donald Beatty

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Sources familiar with the case confirmed Price was compelled to stand down following the publication of our report. He has been replaced on the outrage case by S.C. circuit court judge G.D. Morgan Jr. of Greenville, S.C.

Prior to Price’s decision to stand down, Tinsley had fought hard to keep the embattled judge on the case – arguing the court should permit Price “to complete pending work in the case before he leaves the bench in June 2024.” He also pushed back against Price’s recent disqualification by both the S.C. Bar and the S.C. Judicial Merit Selection Commission (SCJMSC) – the latter of which refused to nominate him for another term on the bench back in November.

“No entity … has declared judge Price is not qualified by ability to hear these matters, rather the Bar and the JMSC found him not qualified by reputation,” Tinsley argued.

Ultimately, the issue became moot when Price requested to be taken off the case – a decision which does not appear to have sat well with Tinsley.

Since our story ran last Friday, Tinsley has filed a libel lawsuit against this media outlet on an unrelated issue – and taken to social media to assail our outlet for engaging in what he refers to as deliberately “malicious” conduct. Our media outlet’s legal team – led by S.C. senator Tom Davis and former U.S. attorney Pete Strom – is preparing a multi-pronged response to Tinsley’s libel suit.

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In the case involving judge Price, Tinsley represents the family of the late 19-year-old  Mallory Beach of Hampton, S.C. – the victim of the 2019 boat crash.

Beach perished in the early morning hours of February 24, 2019 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.

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.

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Charleston Court house

RELATED | JUDGE STILL DOING FAVORS FOR LAWYER-LEGISLATORS

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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.

Parker and his company were among the co-defendants in the boat crash case after one of his stores sold liquor to the teens in the hours leading up to the crash.

This second lawsuit has also spawned allegations of unauthorized disclosures by Tinsley … as well as alleged conflicts of interest involving a former reporter at this media outlet. Stay tuned for additional updates related to this tangled web as all of these cases move forward …

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ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER

(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 eight children.

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6 comments

tamara rhodes Top fan February 10, 2024 at 5:12 pm

Keep their feet to the fire, Will, and don’t back down.

Reply
Rakish Top fan February 13, 2024 at 1:31 am

Not sure why Price expediting the Beach case, if that is the beef, would be seen as a suspicious favoritism re Tinsley unless one thought the Murdaugh’s had some special legal immunity from a civil suit in the boat crash. Were all Price’s bench rulings wrong all the time? Plus if Tinsley is suing FITS news, why is the reason not mentioned? I don’t know why and I would like to know. He would help me determine if this is merely a poorly documented cheap shot at Tinsley or something substantive.

Reply
SubZeroIQ February 13, 2024 at 2:21 am

The pretextual reason Mark Tinsley is suing FITSNews and Will Folks is that APPARENTLY FITS posted a photo of the wrong guy (without a name mind you) as one of the persons of interest in the Stephen Smith case.
The REAL reason is to hush FITSNEWS and Will Folks from criticizing Becky Hill and thus jeopardizing Alex Murdaugh’s (“AM”) two wrongful convictions.
Haven’t you noticed?
Since the case of Austin Levi Stanley v. FITSNews and Will Folks was filed in Hampton County on 6 February 2024, no whisper from FITSNews about Becky Hill or those same two overweight female jurors who had flown with her to New York after the verdict now giving another interview, this time with Eric Bland and to Netflix.
In my opinion free from false humility, those two overweight female jurors unwittingly confirmed what Juror Z had testified about the jury being threatened with sequestration in an hotel if they did not reach a verdict before 10 p.m. that night.
Price’s most important wrong legal ruling is letting Mark Tinsley get all Sara Capelli’s material and “the knife fighter’s” material before it could be reviewed for privilege. That material has a lot of stuff that proved AM’s innocence of the murders and possibly showed who the real killers are. But Tinsley got hold of it first and suppressed it or helped the Prosecution figure out how to spin it away.
Does that answer your questions?

Reply
SubZeroIQ February 14, 2024 at 5:58 am

Hey FITS, the podcat Excited Utterances out of Australia is taking up for you against Mark Tinsley.
You’re getting international, man!
But how far will that get you against Mark Tinsley’s and Eric Bland’s ability to extort even defense lawyers and judges?
Wait and see.

Reply
SubZeroIQ February 14, 2024 at 12:26 pm

Just saying, and also frankly testing who watches my comments on this blog, the Hampton County’s Public Index of Beach (and others) v Parker (and others) STILL shows the case assigned to Bentley Price and does NOT show South Carolina’s (“SC”) supreme court (“S Ct”) ORDER reassigning the case to Judge Morgan.
The claimed commitment to transparency should include insuring that ALL SC’s 46 counties’ Public Indicies (operated by SC S Ct itself) are accurate AND updated.
That is also part of SC S Ct’s duty to supervise SC’s clerks of courts’ administrative functions.
Or is everything clerk-related now being swept under the rug because Jean Toal BASICALLY said Becky Hill is a perjurer but that is Okay so long as she helped convict the most hated man in SC.
Also, FITS, I am NOT a lawyer, only a doctor who, thank God and WITHOUT A LAWYER, was able to achieve for myself in Judge Clifton Newman’s pro-prosecution court what Messers Harpootlian, Griffin, and Barber, and Maitresse Fox COMBINED could not achieve for Alex Murdaugh (“AM”): prevent a wrongful criminal conviction.
And in another case, again thank God and WITHOUT A LAWYER, I was able to reserve another wrongful criminal conviction by proving that the Prosecution used a fabricated Polaroid to initially falsely convict me.
So, without giving you, FITS, legal advice, don’t sleep on responding to that lawsuit even though Mark Tinsley did not YET formally serve you. He might never serve you then seek a default judgment against you by arguing you (and the world up to Australia) had constructive knowledge of the summons and complaint.
See how now-Senior U.S. District Judge Joe Anderson was half-correct in complimenting me as better than half the lawyers who practiced in his court! The judge was half-correct because I am better than all the lawyers who practiced in that court.
Don’t back down to Mark Tinsley or Eric Bland; but keep your eyes open to both of them. And if no lawyer wants to represent you, try representing yourself; but study first. Don’t go to court ignorant and make a fool of yourself. Study!

Reply
SubZeroIQ February 16, 2024 at 11:10 pm

What gives?
Hampton County’s Public Index STILL shows Renee Beach’s “outrage” case STILL assigned to Judge Bentley and shows Austin Levi Stanley’s case STILL not served on you.
Is Austin Levi a southern name?
And are you, Will Folks, actually jewish? Some of your earlier posts so claimed; but someone else had also claimed your dad is a jewish MD.
Can we even have the truth about that? Perhaps Austin Levi will turn out to be your cousin.
This is all unnerving. Again, what gives?

Reply

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