Judge denies ex-CEO Laffitte’s request for new trial

A U.S. district judge has denied the request of the former CEO of Palmetto State Bank for a new trial.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 11:47 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 7:01 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A U.S. district judge has denied the request of the former CEO of Palmetto State Bank for a new trial.

Russell Laffitte was convicted Nov. 22, 2022, on six counts related to financial crimes after 11 hours of deliberation by the jury.

Judge Richard Gergel denied Laffitte’s request for a new trial Monday. Motions for an acquittal and an evidentiary hearing were also denied.

Laffitte filed the motion for a new trial on five separate grounds: the replacement of two jurors after deliberations began, an error in one of the indictments, Laffitte’s right to question board members from the bank, court rulings denying Laffitte’s testimony about Bank of America checks related to Alex Murdaugh’s theft of client funds and the court not charging an advice of counsel defense.

Two jurors in the trial were replaced nine hours into deliberations. The defense argued unsuccessfully that at least one of the jurors had been improperly replaced.

The defense had originally asked to send the jury home for the night rather than replace a juror who needed medication. The court had denied that request because there was no indication that the jury was having difficulties deliberating.

In the court’s filing, it’s argued that the replacement of both jurors had the consent of both sides and any issues were not raised until either after the trial or after an initial agreement to the decision.

A second request for a retrial centered around settlements to Arthur Badger and the estate of Donna Badger. The court said it had referenced both settlements collectively while establishing that both settlements were separate.

The motion was denied on the grounds the court felt it had properly explained the language used.

The defense also argued that a disagreement between Palmetto State board members led to them testifying against Laffitte.

The court said the request based on that testimony was “wholly without merit.”

The court disallowed the admittance of evidence related to a fraud scheme surrounding Alex Murdaugh and an account he held at Bank of America. The court ruled that the admission of that evidence had no direct ties to Laffitte and would only confuse jurors.

The fifth request centered around the court declining advice of counsel defense stating that no evidence was put forth to show it was a valid claim.

Laffitte’s current lawyers, Mark Moore and Michael Parente provided the following statement on Monday:

We have reviewed the Court’s detailed and thorough order denying Mr. Laffitte’s motion for a new trial. While we respectfully disagree with the Court’s ultimate decision, we will now proceed to the next phase of this litigation and continue our efforts to protect Mr. Laffitte’s constitutional rights.

The motion for an acquittal was also denied after the court said Laffitte failed to meet his burden for an acquittal.