Convicted of Fraud & Theft Enough for Disbarment
Lawyer Admits to Insurance Fraud & Theft From Clients
In the Matter of Richard Alexander Murdaugh, Supreme Court of South Carolina, June 16, 2022 the Supreme Court was faced with the obligation to render a final order re Murdaugh’s license to practice law.
On September 16, 2021, Respondent Murdaugh was arrested and charged with Attempted Insurance Fraud and Filing a False Police Report. The false report was related to an attempted assisted suicide that Respondent reported as an attempted murder because he believed his life insurance policy contained an enforceable suicide exclusion.
Respondent appeared at bond hearings and, through counsel, admitted in court that he had, in fact, engineered the events that supported the arrest. On November 22, 2021, Respondent filed an Emergency Motion for a Gag Order in Satterfield v. Murdaugh, Case No. 2021-CP-25-00298, in which Respondent admitted to misconduct related to the theft of money from the law firm that employed him.
Over the course of several months, Murdaugh was indicted and charged with over seventy criminal counts involving the theft of funds from various clients, including the Satterfield plaintiffs. On May 27, 2022, he signed a Confession of Judgment and Stipulation in the amount of $4,305,000.00, admitting liability for the theft of settlement funds in the Satterfield matter in which Respondent was the named defendant.
The South Carolina Constitution requires the Supreme Court to regulate the practice of law in South Carolina.
Since Murdaugh admitted to conduct that amounts to clear and convincing evidence of dishonesty in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct presenting testimony about his conduct would be redundant. The Supreme Court concluded that Respondent is bound by the admissions contained in the documents he filed in the Satterfield case.
In this unique case, Respondent’s admissions in the public record lead to only one conclusion-that Respondent’s egregious ethical misconduct subjects him to the most significant sanction available- disbarment.
The Supreme Court ordered that Murdaugh appear in the Supreme Court Courtroom at 11:00 a.m. on June 22, 2022, to present legal argument on the question of whether this Court should disbar Respondent from the practice of law.
The Supreme Court was technically required to allow Murdaugh to appear and explain why he believes he should not be disbarred. I hope he does not add to his egregious and unethical conduct by appearing and that the Supreme Court immediately disbars him.
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Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, is available at