A day after being hit with accusations that she unlawfully tampered with the jury that found Alex Murdaugh guilty of murder, Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca “Becky” Hill has retained two high-profile South Carolina lawyers.
One is state Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, known for representing various victims of Murdaugh’s financial crimes. Bamberg, the son of two law enforcement officers, is also known for representing families of African-American men who were shot by police in cases that received national attention.
The other is Will Lewis, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted a variety of white collar crimes, including helping send former 5th Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson to prison in 2019 for wire fraud in connection with Johnson’s thefts from government. Wilson’s mother is U.S. Judge Mary Lewis.
As a federal prosecutor, Lewis, now in private practice, also helped successfully prosecute perpetrators of a mail-order bomb plot in which a deep cover FBI agent posed as a bomb maker on the Internet’s Dark Web. The FBI described the incident as a domestic terrorism plot.
Neither Bamberg nor Lewis were available for interviews. Bamberg confirmed in a text to The State newspaper that they were representing Hill.
Hill has been accused by Murdaugh’s lawyers of improperly influencing the jury that convicted Murdaugh of murdering his wife, Maggie, and son Paul.
However, she does not face any formal criminal charges.
Murdaugh was convicted March 2 at the end of a six-week trial at the Colleton County courthouse. The jury deliberated less than three hours. Judge Clifton Newman sentenced Murdaugh the next day to two consecutive life terms.
Murdaugh attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian have called for a federal investigation into whether Hill, an elected official, violated Murdaugh’s civil rights.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, the two Murdaugh attorneys specifically requested that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the state’s leading criminal investigation arm, stand down from the investigation. In their remarks, the attorneys said that SLED was too invested in Murdaugh’s conviction.
Bamberg is no stranger to the sprawling Murdaugh saga.
A colorful figure known for his striking suits and for mixing legal acumen with folksy sayings, Bamberg represented the family of Hakeem Pinckney, a client of Alex Murdaugh’s who died on a ventilator after Murdaugh allegedly stole his settlement from the car crash that paralyzed the deaf 19-year-old.
He is a regular commentator on the Murdaugh case and appeared in HBO’s documentary, Low Country, which followed the family’s misdeeds.
Bamberg is the second attorney involved in other Murdaugh-related cases to become involved in the case’s latest legal swerve. Two of the jurors named in the petition are being represented by Columbia attorney Joe McCullough, who also represents Connor Cook, a survivor of the 2019-boat crash that killed Mallory Beach and kicked off the public interest in the Murdaugh family.
What has Hill been accused of?
In a 65-page petition to the South Carolina Court of Appeals, Murdaugh’s attorneys cite affidavits from several jurors who assert that Hill warned them “not to be fooled” by Murdaugh’s testimony or “misled” by the defense’s evidence.
“Y’all are going to hear things that will throw you all off. Don’t let this distract you or mislead you,” Hill reportedly told jurors, according to the petition.
Just days before the case concluded, Hill allegedly had a juror who expressed uncertainty dismissed on the pretext that the juror’s ex-husband had made a Facebook post saying that she had made up her mind about the case. In a sworn affidavit, the juror said that she had not spoken to her ex-husband in ten years and he denied making the post, which was never found.
During the deliberations, Hill is accused in court documents of telling jurors that deliberations “shouldn’t take them long.” The twelve jurors, six of whom are smokers, were denied cigarette breaks during the deliberations despite having been allowed breaks throughout the trial.
In late July, Hill published one of the first books about the Murdaugh case and trial, billing it as an insider’s account.
Harpootlian and Griffin have accused her of tampering with the jury with the goal of getting a quick guilty verdict. That would help goose her book sales, the lawyers said.