LEXINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) — Many say the Alex Murdaugh trial was the biggest murder trial in South Carolina history.
Numerous lawyers worked on both sides of the case, but one attorney who didn’t represent either side in the murder case has helped shine a spotlight on it in the Southeast and nationally.
Malpractice attorney Eric Bland has followed the case closely and is now a part of the post-Murdaugh verdict. He has practiced law in South Carolina for 30 years and is connected to the Murdaugh scandals through his Bland-Richter law firm, which was successful in getting a settlement for the family of the Murdaugh family’s late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield.
News13 anchor Bob Juback recently sat down with Bland at his office in Lexington, South Carolina, to talk about the Murdaugh scandals.
Bland and his firm currently represent Becky Hill, the Colleton County Court Clerk who presided over the double-murder trial and is now accused of jury tampering by Murdaugh’s attorneys who are seeking a new trial. Some of the jurors in that trial are now also represented by Bland.
“I can’t tell you because of the attorney-client privilege what they will say if they are put under oath, Bland said of the jurors. “They have given statements to SLED. But I am confident that what they would say will be dramatically different by what has been alleged by Alex Murdaugh and his lawyers.
“I think what you will hear from 10 of these jurors is [that] Ms. Hill did not do anything inappropriate. She was respectful [and] never made any directives to us. You will hear that nothing that she said influenced [the] verdict. It’s not just, well, did somebody come into the jury room and say something that shouldn’t have been said. It’s also a second component … and that is ‘what was said? Did that cause somebody to render a verdict that they otherwise would not have rendered? We haven’t heard that yet.”
Bob Juback: “What did the four jurors need an attorney for?”
“Because [Murdaugh defense attorney Dick] Harpootlian threatened them. If you listen to the press conference he said, ‘All you jurors better go get lawyers because I’m coming after you. I want to depose you. I want to subpoena your text messages and your e-mails and your phone records. Remember, Bob, these jurors gave six-and-a-half weeks of their life to this case. And so, they should not have to be subjected to further harassment and have them be publicly invaded.”
Bland has had a successful legal career, and he’s won some big cases. However, none of them compared to this.
“[The] world was so interested in this because it’s a John Grisham non-fiction book almost,” Bland said. “I mean, John Grisham doesn’t have to come here and close his eyes and write fiction. It’s all true. You have five dead bodies, associated with this family. You have Maggie and Paul [Murdaugh, Alex’s wife and son], you’ve got Mallory Beach, you’ve got Gloria Satterfield, and potentially you’ve got Stephen Smith. [This all happened] in six years.”
Mallory Beach died in February 2019 when an allegedly Paul Murdaught crashed his family’s boat. Smith, an alleged acquaintance of Buster Murdaugh, Alex’s son, died in 2015, and agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division have opened a new investigation into his death.
Bland points out other compelling components of the Murdaugh family history.
“You have this 100-year control of the solicitor’s office,” he said. “You have Alex Murdaugh supposedly doing drugs and buying drugs from the cowboys. You have Alex Murdaugh stealing $10 million, and then you have this law firm, and like the firm in John Grisham’s novels, [it was] so powerful. They are able to get these monster jury verdicts, and it’s in this idyllic setting of the Lowcountry where Pat Conroy would write how pretty the swinging oaks were. So, it just had everything, and I knew it. I knew it when I was brought into this case, and I knew that with the amount of media attention that it was going to have legs. Not only does this case have legs, but it has arms and a full wardrobe. It’s going to go on for a long time.”
Bland said Murdaugh’s legal team strategy is to drag the proceedings out for a long time. He said that it isn’t being done so that Murdaugh can go free.
“They just want some vehicle to reverse this murder case, so that they can get Alex Murdaugh to go serve time in a federal penitentiary instead of a state penitentiary,” Bland said. “Look, Alex Murdaugh is never going to get a fresh breath of air ever again. Don’t worry about that.
“Remember, in the murder trial, he already said, ‘I stole money from these people,’ under oath, from all these people. He said when he testified, ‘I stole money from all these people.’ Plus, he just pleaded guilty on Sept. 20 to all these financial crimes. So, when these state court financial crime cases come up, he is going to be found guilty. Three of those gets him life without parole, irrespective of the murder conviction, and and [prosecutors] Alan Wilson and Creighton Waters want him to serve his time in a maximum-security state prison. [Murdaugh’s lawyer] Dick Harpootlian wants him to serve his time in federal prison. That’s all this is over.”
As a result of the attention he has received on Murdaugh’s legal woes, Bland, along with Mandy Matney and Liz Farrell, started a Murdaugh murders podcast in January called the “Cup of Justice.” It takes a hard look at everything from the state of news to important cases around the world, including updates on the Murdaugh legal battles still ongoing.