Clerk of court in Murdaugh trial under fire for potential ethics violations in new book

As a Colleton County clerk of court docket faces accusations of jury tampering throughout a high-profile double homicide trial, ethics questions encompass her guide on the court docket proceedings.

Rebecca “Becky” Hill wrote a guide detailing the Alex Murdaugh trial whereas serving because the clerk of court docket for Colleton County. Earlier than the guide’s publication in July, Hill contacted the South Carolina Ethics Fee concerning the permissibility of her guide.

In response to Hill’s query, the ethics fee — in an off-the-cuff opinion — didn’t state whether or not Hill’s guide violated the Ethics, Authorities Accountability and Marketing campaign Reform Act, however left that willpower in Hill’s court docket based mostly on three important questions: “Does the chance come up because of your place as clerk of court docket?; Is the subject material of the work one thing inside your official duty?; and Is this kind of work one thing that the clerk of court docket’s workplace would usually carry out and for which you may obtain expense reimbursement for by the clerk of court docket’s workplace.”

Primarily based on these questions, the fee suggested Hill that, “Within the opinion of fee workers, it appears unlikely that writing a guide would fall inside your official tasks as Clerk of Court docket. Nevertheless, you’ll have to make that final willpower based mostly in your official duties and the rules provided above.”

Murdaugh was in the end convicted in March for killing his spouse and son, and Hill’s guide, retelling accounts of the high-profile trial, was launched 4 months later.

In a movement for a brand new trial, filed by Murdaugh’s attorneys earlier this month, Hill is accused of tampering with the jury and influencing the result of the trial “to safe for herself a guide deal and media appearances that might not occur within the occasion of a mistrial,” the grievance alleges. “Ms. Hill betrayed her oath of workplace for cash and fame.”

Notably, Hill’s query to the fee omitted the truth that her guide would focus completely on the Murdaugh trial. As a substitute, in an April 28 e mail to the fee, Hill framed her query concerning the permissibility of her guide round “the method of trial from starting to finish, specializing in the method itself the historical past of it and naturally the high-profile circumstances that South Carolina has had.”

In a movement for a brand new trial submitted by considered one of Murdaugh’s lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, Hill is accused of searching for private monetary achieve in her function as clerk of court docket, exterior of the rules provided by the ethics fee.

Particularly, in a hand-written notice — meant to function an addendum to a video manufacturing contract — to a significant manufacturing firm, Hill requested that, “In change for the usage of the likeness of Rebecca Hill in an interview, … video and audio clips will accompany the utilization on the primary reference. The guide cowl for the guide, ‘Behind the Doorways of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders’ will probably be proven and audio will embrace Becky’s introduction as Clerk of Court docket for Colleton County and writer of the guide.”

Hill’s addendum, which the manufacturing firm ignored, proceed to boost questions on ethics surrounding her guide and nationwide media appearances.

“However like her jury tampering throughout trial, it was an try and violate South Carolina (regulation), which gives, ‘No public official, public member, or public worker might knowingly use his official workplace, membership or employment to acquire an financial curiosity for himself,” the grievance stated.

Hill has not responded to a request for remark from The State.

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