RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys have filed a lawsuit in federal court asking a judge to block the release of Murdaugh’s jailhouse phone calls to additional media outlets, WCIV reports.
Online news site FITSNews obtained excerpts of Murdaugh’s phone conversations via a public records request. The site published them on Feb. 24.
WCIV and affiliate WACH-TV filed a joint FOIA request to Richland County for access to those recordings on the same day, WCIV said.
As of Monday, WCIV nor WACH received a response from the county stating whether or not it intended to release copies of Murdaugh’s jail call recordings to them.
WCIV reported that government agencies have 10 business days to respond to a FOIA request. The response should inform the requester if the agency intends to honor or reject the request.
In a lawsuit filed Monday by Murdaugh’s attorneys, they asked to block any further release of Murdaugh’s call recordings if requested by the public, WCIV reported.
Murdaugh’s attorneys argued releasing those phone calls violates federal wire tapping laws outlined in Title 18 U.S.C. 2517, which they claim does not permit disclosure of such recordings with a FOIA request, WCIV said.
The attorneys are asking a federal judge for a preliminary and permanent injunction against the interim director of the Richland County jail, blocking him from further releases of the jail calls, according to WCIV. The attorneys also asked that the judge compel Richland County to disclose records of other calls by Murdaugh the county had made available. Murdaugh’s attorneys want to be awarded attorneys fees if their suit is successful, WCIV reported.
Alex Murdaugh has been in jail at the Richland County Detention Center since Oct. 2021. He has been charged with more than 70 financial crimes including fraud and money laundering.
State prosecutors allege Murdaugh, an attorney, used his position to steal nearly $9 million over the course of at least 10 years, primarily targeting settlement money meant for his clients.
Murdaugh is considered a person of interest in the unsolved murders of his wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, in June 2021.
Murdaugh is being held in jail with a bond set at $7 million. His attorneys have argued Murdaugh does not have the means to pay that amount to secure his release, but a judge denied a request for a lower bond in January.
(WATCH BELOW: SC police release 911 calls related to Murdaugh’s housekeeper’s accidental fall)
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