Politics

Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh Want Opposing Attorney Silenced for Disparaging Remarks

After a prosecutor publicly compared Alex Murdaugh to two serial killers and made insulting comments about the legal history of his defense attorneys, the defense is now asking the judge to issue a gag order, the Associated Press reported. The defense also said they’d be fine if the judge required public silence from everyone involved with the case.

The request says prosecutor Eric Bland broke ethics rules by making the comments in media appearances and should be prevented from doing it again, as well as be investigated by a panel that disciplines attorneys on such matters, the AP stated.

“Mr. Bland has made it clear he intends to continue, and, indeed, to escalate his campaign of extrajudicial disparagement so long as no one stops him. For that reason, a gag order is unfortunately necessary,” Murdaugh attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin wrote in their motion Monday.

Murdaugh is charged with dozens of crimes in South Carolina, mostly finance-related, and Bland is the attorney representing the sons of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper who died after falling in Murdaugh’s home in 2019.

After her death, Murdaugh allegedly told the sons he would collect over $3 million in insurance settlements and give it to them, but reportedly kept the money for himself.

Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were shot and killed outside a family home in June, both of which remain unsolved.

After Murdaugh was charged in September with insurance fraud after allegedly attempting to hire someone to kill him so his surviving son could receive a $10 million life insurance policy, only to survive the attack with a bullet grazing his head, police opened several investigations into Murdaugh and his family.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Alex Murdaugh, South Carolina, Crimes
Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers are requesting a gag order for the prosecution for remarks on a podcast. Above, Murdaugh listens to prosecutors outline their case against him during a bond hearing in the Richland Judicial Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
Lewis M. Levine/Associated Press

Bland issued a statement Tuesday saying Murdaugh’s attorneys were trying to deflect from their client’s massive legal problems. Bland said Harpootlian should be banned from speaking publicly about the case because he said last month on “Good Morning America” that Murdaugh understands he will go to prison and said disparaging things in other interviews about his client’s drug use.

“The motion is an illusionist’s attempt to distract attention away from harm that he has inflicted upon his own client by his very attorney,” Bland said in his statement that promised a more thorough response in a future court filing.

The gag order request by Murdaugh’s attorneys includes six pages of comments Bland has made to reporters, most of them to FITSNews.com, an internet site founded on political gossip and commentary on the looks of women. The site now has two reporters who concentrate almost exclusively on Murdaugh.

Harpootlian said Bland needs to be sanctioned for attacking their credibility.

“There are certainly cases that I’ve seen that he has pulled monkeys out of a hat, and you know really got an amazing result, but it just isn’t gonna happen here. It isn’t going to happen because he can’t do what he does best, which is leverage relationships and good deeds that he’s done over the years,” Bland said on the Murdaugh Murders podcast on FITSNews.

In the same podcast, Bland compared Murdaugh to Pee Wee Gaskins and another notorious South Carolina serial killer, saying “they’re killers there’s no question about it, and there is a difference right now, but he is as morally bankrupt as they are.”

Harpootlian said the reference to Gaskins was especially insulting because he was the prosecutor who sent Gaskins to death row and he had to spend weeks under armed protection after Gaskins tried to have his then 3-year-old daughter kidnapped to try to avoid the electric chair.

“Mr. Bland knows stealing money is in no way morally equivalent to murdering more than a dozen people and raping girls as young as 12 years old,” Murdaugh’s lawyers wrote in their motions.

In other interviews, Bland has suggested Murdaugh will be sentenced to hundreds of years in prison and called him “morally decrepit,” “morally bankrupt,” “a “really, really bad person,” and he “doesn’t think decency and the rules apply,” according to the motion, which said those comments could influence a jury that hears the lawsuit or Murdaugh’s criminal charges.

While the request was specifically for a gag order against Bland, Murdaugh’s lawyers said they would be fine if a judge kept everyone involved in the lawsuit by the housekeeper Satterfield’s sons from speaking publicly.

Murdaugh also faces lawsuits from the family of a teenager who died when authorities said Paul Murdaugh was drunk and crashed his father’s boat into a bridge pillar and a passenger on the boat who said the Murdaugh family tried to mislead investigators to think he was driving the boat.

Murdaugh has been in jail for more than a month after a judge denied him bail on his criminal charges.

Alex Murdaugh Charged
Alex Murdaugh was charged Thursday for allegedly stealing more than $4 million in insurance payouts from the children of his longtime housekeeper, who died in 2018. Above, Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing on September 16, 2021, in Varnville, South Carolina.
Mic Smith/AP Photo

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