A new court filing on Thursday revealed that South Carolina Circuit Judge Clifton Newman would not preside over any proceedings related to Alex Murdaugh’s request for a retrial.
The defense team of the convicted killer has asked repeatedly that Newman be removed as the judge in Murdaugh’s cases going forward. Newman presided over a double murder trial.
Newman, following a guilty jury verdict, sentenced Murdaugh in March to two terms of life imprisonment for the murders of his wife Maggie, and his son Paul.
Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, defense lawyers, filed a motion to have the trial redone based on allegations made by Becky Hill of Colleton County Court that she had tried to influence jurors in a way that would lead them toward a conviction. She has denied these allegations.
The defense team requested the South Carolina Supreme Court kick Newman out of the case earlier this month. They argued that there would be a conflict when he was a witness on matters that are likely to feature prominently at a hearing for the new trial.
They also argued that by publicly discussing the opinions of Murdaugh, the jurist violated the Code of Judicial Conduct and that he should not handle any of Murdaugh’s cases that are still pending.
Murdaugh faces more than 100 charges in South Carolina for financial crimes and drug offenses.
The five-judge panel from the highest court of the state wrote in an order that Newman was already disqualified and had “requested a new judge to be assigned to the post-trial proceedings involving the murder case.”
The order was a defeat for the defense as it denied Murdaugh’s request to remove Newman’s other pending cases including a trial scheduled for November 27 in Beaufort County.
Murdaugh faces 13 charges stemming allegedly from the allegations that he pocketed over $4 million in insurance payouts, which were supposed to be paid to his late housekeeper Gloria Satterfield who died following a trip and fall on his property.