South Carolina Supreme Court issued an order Thursday, November 16 indicating that Judge Cliffton Newman is seeking to recuse himself and have a new judge appointed to handle the post-trial motions related to the Alex Murdaugh trial.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office originally filed a response opposing the motion to delay the trial, refused to comment on Newman’s decision to request a new judge.
Murdaugh’s defense team filed a motion on Nov. 1 asking for a write of prohibition that would prevent Newman from presiding over all future trials and hearings as it seeks a new trial amid accusations of jury tampering. In that motion, Murdaugh defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin argued Newman should be barred from presiding over any future cases because he “has personal knowledge about the clerk of court’s conduct” which they argue will be disputed at a hearing about whether Murdaugh should have a new trial. Documents also allege Newman made statements after the judge returned guilty verdicts that violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. In that statement Newman stated, “It might not have been you. It might have been the monster you become” when taking large amounts of opiates.
Statements from Newman also include congratulating the jury for returning the correct verdict, statements at sentencing evidencing personal bias, and statements in public interviews on national news outlets after the trial stating his personal opinion regarding Mr. Murdaugh’s guilt, legal issues on appeal, and strategic choices by Murdaugh’s counsel during trial.
The order from the state Supreme Court denied a defense request to delay the hearing on 101 financial and narcotics charges, which is set to begin Nov. 27 in Beaufort County until a decision was made on whether to bar Newman from presiding.
It also denied the request for the writ of prohibition, calling it “moot,” since Newman requested a new judge be assigned.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, which originally filed a response opposing the motion to delay the trial, refused to comment on Newman’s decision to request a new judge.
For more information visit sccourts.org