COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) – Alex Murdaugh is asking a judge to release more of his money, so he can hire lawyers to appeal his murder conviction.
Murdaugh’s attorneys requested this in a court filing this week.
In “Defendant Richard Alexander Murdaugh’s motion for payment of attorney’s fees and cost from untainted funds”, Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian ask for $160,000 to be transferred from an escrow account to pay for attorneys’ fees and costs to appeal his recent convictions and sentence.
Murdaugh was sentenced on March 3 to two consecutive life sentences without parole for murdering his son Paul and wife Maggie back in June of 2021.
The motion says that the money would come from an escrow account that holds more than $424,000 from his liquidated 401(k) retirement account. The money he calls “innocent” property, not money gained through illegal means.
Murdaugh still faces 99 different financial charges for allegedly stealing millions from clients through an illegal insurance scheme.
The motion claims Murdaugh paid his defense team for the initial murder trial $518,722.50 for out-of-pocket costs and trial counsel received $81,277.50 in attorneys’ fees for their work during the six-week trial.
The document calls that number “grossly insufficient” to cover the actual attorneys’ fees incurred preparing for and defending him during the six-week trial.
They bring up Murdaugh’s “Sixth Amendment right to hire the counsel of his choice from untainted funds”.
It grants a “fair opportunity to secure counsel of his own choice.” And, it adds that he has sufficient “innocent” property to pay that counsel.
“The requested fees and costs are reasonable and necessary for the appeal. If the court does not grant this motion, the burden of representing Murdaugh will shift to the already overworked appellate public defenders. This will erode the Sixth Amendment right to counsel for Murdaugh and the other clients of the Division of Appellate Defense, whose attorneys will be burdened with the appeal of Murdaugh’s six-week trial.”
Already, there has been backlash to this request.
Attorney Justin Bamberg, who represents several people who were allegedly taken by Murdaugh thousands of dollars, says he plans to formally object to Murdaugh’s request.
He believes this is just another way to keep money away from civil judgments, and away from victims like his clients.
Bamberg writes on Facebook:
“None of Alex’s money is “untainted” in my opinion based on his admissions during his murder trial. I also don’t believe him not being allowed to take money that could go to his victims for himself instead violates his constitutional rights. To the contrary, Alex getting that money to fight an appeal only victimizes his victims once again…”
“How can Alex say his 401(k) funds are “legitimate” when an obvious contributing factor to his ability to even put that kind of money away over the course of his legal career was the simple fact he was actively stealing MILLIONS from clients and using that stolen money to pay for stuff he desired instead of relying solely on any legitimately earned income?”
“As far as I am concerned, at this point, Alex can apply for a public defender just like ANYBODY ELSE WITH NO REAL MONEY FOR A LAWYER is forced to do EVERY SINGLE DAY in this world — including most of the people prosecuted by his own family when they were Solicitor over the last 100 years — UNLESS that person could get a lawyer to represent them for free or broker a deal where a private lawyer handles the case in exchange for something other than cash money.”
“The funds in the receivership should be solely FOR HIS VICTIMS, the costs associated with the work the receivers are doing, etc. because he owes these victims far more money than he has money to go around. We should’ve put a lien on those beef sticks and stuff he was buying while in jail awaiting trial. He confessed judgment to the Satterfield family to the tune of over $4M, and he still owes them on that as far as I know too.”
Murdaugh officially filed his notice of appeal on those murder convictions on March 9, less than a week after his trial.