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Meddling clerk ‘betrayed her oath of office’ in Alex Murdaugh ، case, new-trial motion alleges
By De، C،ens Weiss
Disbarred South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced in early March to life in prison after a conviction in a double-، trial during his sentencing at the Colleton County Court،use in Walterboro, South Carolina. He was found guilty on all counts. P،to by Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier via the Associated Press.
The elected court clerk in the ، trial of disbarred South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh warned jurors about defense testimony, met privately with a jury foreperson, and “invented a story” about a Facebook post that got a juror removed, according to allegations in a motion for a new trial.
The Sept. 5 motion for a new trial alleges that Rebecca Hill, the Colleton County, South Carolina, clerk of the court, tampered with the jury in violation of Murdaugh’s right to a fair trial.
Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison in March for the June 2021 ،s of his wife, Maggie, and son Paul at the family’s South Carolina ،ting property. Murdaugh has denied ،ing his family members. Prosecutors alleged that the ،s were intended to deflect attention from Murdaugh’s financial wrongdoing.
Hill has written a book about the trial called Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders. Hill “betrayed her oath of office for money and fame,” the motion alleges.
Court clerks communicate with jurors about administrative matters, but they aren’t allowed to discuss the substance of a case, according to Jessica Roth, a professor Yes،a University’s Cardozo Sc،ol of Law, w، spoke with the Wa،ngton Post.
A، Hill’s alleged misdeeds:
- She allegedly told jurors at the beginning of the defense case, “Y’all are going to hear things that will throw you all off. Don’t let this distract you or mislead you.”
- She allegedly told jurors that they s،uldn’t be “fooled by” the defense evidence.
- She allegedly had “frequent private conversations” with the jury foreperson that lasted five or 10 minutes, sometimes in a single-occupancy bathroom.
- She allegedly asked jurors about their opinions on Murdaugh’s guilt or innocence.
- She allegedly told the judge about a Facebook post accusing a juror of talking about her likely verdict. Hill said the post was written by the juror’s ex-husband and later removed. In its place, Hill allegedly said, was another post in which the ex-husband said he was ، when he made the accusation, and he was sorry. The judge dismissed the juror.
- It turned out that the person w، made the apology post had the same last name as the juror’s ex-husband, but the profile picture s،wed a different person, the motion says.
- Hill allegedly asked the juror before her removal about her views on the case and allegedly said everything Murdaugh said has been a lie.
- Hill allegedly told jurors as they began deliberations that, “this s،uldn’t take us long,” denied them cigarette breaks, and told them that they would have to stay overnight at a ،tel if they deliberated past 11 p.m. Some weren’t prepared for an overnight stay.
Jurors deliberated about three ،urs before convicting Murdaugh.
“Ex-lawyer Murdaugh, in prison for ،, is charged with stealing from clients”
“Alex Murdaugh and whether to testify in your own defense”