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Alex Murdaugh’s legal team has filed a motion for a new murder trial, according to reports citing newly filed court documents.
Murdaugh’s lawyers filed the motion in Colleton County court in South Carolina on Friday, Fox News reported.
A South Carolina appeals court granted his request to petition for a new murder trial from the lower court last month over jury tampering allegations. Murdaugh’s legal team claims Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill suggested Murdaugh was guilty and pressured jurors to reach a verdict quickly, according to The Associated Press.
Hill, who published a memoir on her involvement in the wake of the high-profile trial, is also accused of “misrepresenting critical and material information to the trial judge in her campaign to remove a juror she believed to be favorable to the defense,” per court documents. Murdaugh's lawyers have said she "betrayed her oath of office," People reported.
Photo: James Pollard/AP
On Wednesday, Murdaugh’s attorneys also filed a motion to block Judge Clifton Newman, who presided over his murder trial, from hearing the request, according to The Associated Press. They’re also seeking to remove the justice from other cases he’s presiding over involving Murdaugh, including an upcoming financial crimes trial. Newman was also expected to rule on Murdaugh’s motion for a new trial, according to Charleston newspaper The Post and Courier.
Why do Alex Murdaugh's lawyers want to block Judge Clifton Newman from hearing their motion for a new trial?
"Mr. Murdaugh’s right to have his appeal heard by an impartial judge will be violated if Judge Newman proceeds to hear his motion for a new trial," the motion stated. Murdaugh’s lawyers contend that Newman’s involvement in the double murder trial is a conflict of interest. They argue the South Carolina judge was a witness regarding matters that will be heavily examined in a hearing for a new trial, which should disqualify him. Defense lawyers Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian added that they aren’t accusing Newman of having done "anything improper during the trial."
Photo: Grace Beahm-Pool/Getty Images; Tracy Glantz/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Newman is expected to retire at the end of the year, according to The Post and Courier.
The South Carolina judge has spoken publicly about the Murdaugh trial in media interviews including on NBC’s TODAY, and at a televised panel discussion at Cleveland State University College of Law, his alma mater.
"In my mind, no doubt [Murdaugh] loved his family,” Newman told university students inside a lecture hall. “I don't believe that he hated his wife and certainly do not believe he did not love his son, but he committed an unforgivable, unimaginable crime and there's no way that he'll be able to sleep peacefully.”
Such comments, according to Murdaugh’s lawyers, corroded Newman’s own impartiality in the case. Griffin didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Oxygen.com Thursday.
Another case that Murdaugh’s attorneys are seeking to remove Newman from includes a pending trial in Beaufort County, where Murdaugh is accused of swindling personal injury clients out of more than $4 million.
Trial is slated get underway on November 27, however, Murdaugh’s legal team is demanding proceedings are halted until a ruling is made regarding whether Newman will be taken off the case.
Murdaugh was convicted in March of fatally shooting his wife and son at the family’s hunting estate in 2021. He was handed two consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility for parole.