An attorney for convicted double murderer Alex Murdaugh is none too pleased after a sheriff’s office in South Carolina released a jailhouse recording of himself and his infamous client on a phone call that was recorded during the recent trial in Colleton County.
“Yeah, that’s me, and I’m mad as hell,” attorney Jim Griffin told Fox News on March 21. “Other questions I have are who else had access and listened to those calls. You can tell from the clip we were absolutely talking about trial strategy.”
“I’m pretty sure Alex wasn’t calling anyone but me from the jail,” Griffin added. “One of my most significant questions is why were they recording my calls at all.”
In the brief audio clip, Griffin says he has to go to bed. Murdaugh then brings up the way his defense appears to have handled a certain witness, insists he’s not being critical, and says that he does not think his attorneys “could have done a better job with him.”
Then Murdaugh adds: “But I do think there’s something to think about because there’s one thing that seems to me to be a big deal. And that – I don’t know that the jury understands that right now.”
Griffin signals he understands: “No, I get it. I get it.”
Sheriff’s office releases Alex Murdaugh jailhouse phone call with defense attorney, then asks people not to share it
There are no identifying details about either the apparent witness or the aforementioned “big deal” the murder was fixated on.
The recording was obtained and released by Hidden True Crime, a media organization run by husband-wife duo Dr. John Matthias and Lauren Matthias. The outlet produces podcasts and YouTube videos focused on true crime from the combined perspectives of “criminal psychology and journalism,” according to their website.
Hidden True Crime, in a February open records request, asked for “any and all jail phone calls made, placed by” Richard Alexander Murdaugh while in the custody of the sheriff’s office, the Colleton County Jail, or the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, their South Carolina state Freedom of Information Act request says.
According to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, the phone call was released as the result of “human error.”
“The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office became aware of an attorney/client privilege call that was on social media this past weekend,” the CCSO told Law&Crime. “The release of the attorney/client call was an inadvertent human error. The release of jail calls was a response to a FOIA request. All jail calls had to be screened by listening to the first few seconds of each call to determine if they fell under attorney/client privilege. Multiple calls were removed but this one call inadvertently remained in the list for release. An email was sent out to the requestor advising that the call fell under attorney/client privilege and to not share the call.”
More Law&Crime coverage: Alex Murdaugh’s trial judge calls out defense lawyer for tweet criticizing ‘sloppy’ law enforcement investigation and compares him to Kyrie Irving
Law&Crime also reviewed a portion of the email directly sent to Hidden True Crime.
“It has come to our attention that one of the calls released through the FOIA response falls under attorney/client privilege,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a March 18 email to the outlet. “Please do not share this call.”
That request not to share the call, however, Hidden True Crime says, only came after the call had already been shared widely.
Lauren Matthias told Law&Crime that the recording, along with 28 other phone calls that were “mostly hang-ups,” was released by the CCSO late last week. The call between Murdaugh and Griffin was posted on TikTok in order to elicit additional information about the exchange from court watchers, Matthias said.
After that, it went viral.
“We were not told we did anything wrong,” Hidden True Crime wrote in a statement on social media addressing the controversy and the CCSO’s admitted violation of attorney/client privilege standards. “We were not asked to take anything down.”
STATEMENT FROM HIDDEN TRUE CRIME, March 21, 2023 @lawyergriffin @FoxNews @lawcrimenews @DailyMail @NancyGrace @Newsweek pic.twitter.com/8Yqd4AwO8C
— Hidden True Crime (@HiddenTrueCrime) March 21, 2023
Earlier this month, Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences by Judge Clifton Newman for the murder of his wife and son. He is currently in the process of appealing his conviction.
According to Fox News, the CCSO has not, so far, responded to Griffin’s inquiries about the alleged mix-up.
“I’m investigating to try to determine what happened,” the attorney told the outlet. “I have sent in inquiries to the jail and sheriff’s department.”
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