Alex Murdaugh's legal team seeks to REMOVE trial judge from his criminal case ... trends now
Attorneys for convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh are asking South Carolina's highest court to remove the judge who presided over his murder trial from the next phases of his legal odyssey.
In court filings on Wednesday, lawyers for Murdaugh sought to block Judge Clifton Newman from hearing the disbarred attorney's request for a new trial, after he was convicted of gunning down his wife and son.
They also want the state Supreme Court to remove Newman from an upcoming case prosecuting Murdaugh over a string of financial crimes that prosecutors say he committed as his life spiraled out of control in the years leading up to the murders.
Although Murdaugh's lawyers don't accuse Newman of acting improperly during the murder trial, they cite his remarks during sentencing and in public interviews with the Today Show and Cleveland State University following the verdict as evidence that he can no longer be considered impartial.
Attorneys for convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh are asking South Carolina's highest court to remove the judge who presided over his murder trial from his bid for a retrial
Murdaugh's lawyers cite Newman's remarks during sentencing and in public interviews with the Today Show (above) and Cleveland State University
A spokesperson for defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin told DailyMail.com that they would have no further comment beyond the filings themselves. Newman could not be immediately reached for comment.
Wednesday's request was part of Murdaugh's appeal of the guilty verdicts and life sentence from his trial last spring.
His lawyers have accused elected Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill of tampering with the murder trial jury by asking jurors their opinions on his guilt or innocence before the trial was over, suggesting to them she thought he was guilty and pressuring them to reach a verdict quickly.
The defense wants Newman removed from deciding whether there will be a full hearing into Hill's actions, saying the judge could likely be a witness because of his interactions with Hill.
They also said Newman, in comments at sentencing and in several post-trial interviews, indicated he thought Murdaugh was guilty. The defense argues this could prevent him from fairly deciding if the murder trial was unfair.
After the jury returned a guilty verdict in a matter of hours, Newman engaged in lengthy remarks before handing down his sentence of two life sentences.
Among other remarks, he wondered aloud whether the spirits of Murdaugh's wife and son haunted him at night.
Those remarks came after the jury verdict, and judges are typically allowed leeway to express their views on the case while explaining their sentencing decision to an offender.
Newman also appeared on the Today Show and a recorded interview at Cleveland State University law school, his alma mater, where he discussed the case at length.
After the jury returned a guilty verdict