MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – Russell Laffitte was convicted of helping disbarred Hampton County Attorney Alex Murdaugh commit financial crimes. Laffitte believes he received an unfair trial when two jurors were dismissedand replaced by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel during jury deliberations. If the motion is approved, the ex-Palmetto State Bank CEO would likely receive a new trial.

Judge Gergel replaced two jurors with concerns after ten hours of deliberation, a guilty verdict was returned by the new jury forty minutes later. Laffitte’s defense objected to the process replacing two jurors in the eleventh hour of the trial.

Former South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon believes Laffitte’s defense has a valid argument.

“Very valid, substantive issue anytime you have jurors replaced during the middle of deliberations,” says Condon. “It creates the potential for very serious legal issues.”

Twelve jurors listened to testimony from several witnesses and experts over three weeks and examined more than 300 pieces of evidence before beginning deliberations. After ten hours of back and forth, the jury sent four notes to the judge expressing concerns among the jury. Two of the jurors would end up replaced.

“And to have them replaced and have a relatively quick verdict after that, notes being passed back and forth, medicine, I think pressure, just all sorts of comments like that in the record, (it’s) very unusual,” says Condon.

One juror said they needed antibiotics, Laffitte asked Judge Gergel to take recess for the night and return in the morning, Judge Gergel denied the request. Laffitte agreed the first juror in need of antibiotics needed replaced. A second juror experiencing anxiety during the deliberations, was also replaced by Judge Gergel. Laffitte says he didn’t agree with that decision.

“The second juror, there was not an agreement to dismiss the juror,” says Condon. “They also were not present, so it’s a substantive issue.”

The defense claims the jury replacement and then failure to instruct the jury to restart deliberations resulted in an unfair trial and violation of Lafitte’s rights.

“But even if he doesn’t change his mind, I think they’re setting up an appeal to the 4th Circuit, so this is a potential winner for them in the long run,” says Condon. “It’s also a potential loser.”

Former South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon says Judge Gergel will likely deny the motion, setting up an appeal through the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. It’s a process Condon says will be lengthy.

“I don’t think it will end anytime soon,” says Condon. “So even if they lose this with Judge Gergel, I think they’re looking for an appeal to the 4th Circuit. I do think that will be a case worth watching.”

The government is expected to respond before Judge Gergel rules on the motion. If denied, Laffitte will likely file an appeal with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Laffitte remains out on bond until Judge Gergel takes up his sentencing.