The sensational Alex Murdaugh murder case has spawned yet another legal battle. This time it’s between the journalist who co-authored a court clerk’s memoir and a foul-mouthed attorney who made a name for herself on TikTok.
Neil Gordon, who wrote Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders with Colleton County Clerk Becky Hill, filed a confidential ethics complaint last week against Lori Murray, a South Carolina defense attorney known to her social media followers as “Lawyer Lori.”
The complaint, which was reviewed by The Daily Beast, stems from an expletive-laden Dec. 1 TikTok that Murray posted to her 591,000 followers. In the video, which has over 250,000 views, Murray details the allegations contained in a confidential, anonymous state ethics commission complaint against Hill. Among the claims: Hill gave preferential treatment during the trial to Gordon’s wife, who connected her husband with the clerk to write the memoir published earlier this year.
“I believe Lori violated the state bar code of conduct in that video,” Gordon told The Daily Beast after filing his own complaint with the Supreme Court of South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
It’s now an all-out war between Murray, who believes she has every right to post about legal records online, and Gordon, who alleges the lawyer “defamed” his wife and should be sanctioned.
Before Gordon filed the complaint and then announced it in a press release, he sent Murray a fiery email threatening to sue if she did not take down the video. On Monday, the two also sparred in a Court TV appearance in which Murray accused Gordon of starting the feud for publicity.
“My TikTok account has nothing to do with my law practice. I do not feel I’ve violated any of the ethical rules of my profession,” Murray told The Daily Beast.
The brewing feud illustrates the intense public interest surrounding the saga of Alex Murdaugh, who was convicted of killing his wife and child to cover up a financial scandal, and the cottage industry that has risen up around this and other true crime cases.
It is not the first legal skirmish stemming from the six-week murder trial. Hill, who was elected court clerk in November 2020, is being investigated for allegedly tampering with the jury that convicted Murdaugh.
She had a featured role in the courthouse drama. During the trial, she was one of a few court officials who went with the jury to visit the crime scene. And when the jury reached a verdict, it was Hill who read it out.
“She would make notes late at night after trial,” Gordon said. “After the trial, she decompressed for a few weeks before we began to work together.”
The book is framed as a behind-the-scenes look at the trial and an insider’s thoughts about Murdaugh’s guilt. Murdaugh’s defense team alleges that Hill swayed the jury to deliver an outcome that would help her book. Hill has denied 26 allegations enumerated in an affidavit filed by prosecutors last month, and the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office has ordered state authorities to investigate the claims.
As Murdaugh’s own legal troubles continue to unwind, one of the content creators who has followed along closely is Murray, who describes herself on TikTok as a “mom, lawyer, and loudmouth” and analyzes high-profile cases with her signature drawn and, frequently, profanity.
“So let’s talk about all the ways that Becky Hill, clerk of court of Colleton County, has allegedly, fucked up,” Murray began a Dec. 1 video before she launched into a list of Hill’s alleged misdeeds and the confidential ethics complaint she said she got from a source. (The Daily Beast has reviewed a copy of the ethics complaint sent to Murray.)
She said her favorite “fuck up” was that Hill supposedly saved a seat for Gordon’s wife, Melissa, at the Colleton County courthouse every day of the trial. Melissa also took photos for the memoir.
“Becky told the ethics commission that she did not plan to write this book until after the trial was over—that’s when the idea came to her. Why is the photographer sitting in the courtroom every single day?” Murray asked in the video.
Gordon said one of his wife’s friends sent her Lawyer Lori’s video. “I watched it and I was shocked by the language,” he said. “This is not a barfly talking at a bar. This is an attorney.”
He said the video mischaracterized his wife, who only attended four days of the trial and waited in line with other spectators. She was not allowed to bring her camera, like everyone else. Murray’s video made her feel “victimized that Lori was talking falsely about her and so many saw it,” he told The Daily Beast. In the complaint, Gordon questions Murray’s “professional standards and conduct as an attorney and her slanderous comments” about his wife.
Despite his anger, he said, he did not immediately contact Murray because he did not want to “add gasoline to the fire.” But he watched how people online reacted. “What I noticed was a lot of comments that believed what Lori said was fact,” he said. “And that didn’t sit right with me, because she did not vet anything before presenting her perspective.”
According to a Dec. 2 email to Murray reviewed by The Daily Beast, Gordon did not keep his anger bottled up long: He demanded an “immediate retraction and apology” on video before a scheduled appearance on CourtTV the following day. Murray said that Gordon also went on social media and challenged her to appear with him in the TV interview.
“You damaged us. There are book sales we will never get due to the inaccurate ‘reporting’ you have undertaken,” he wrote in the email. He denied Hill misused her position to grant Melissa Gordon special access to the trial and slammed Murray for not contacting his wife or the clerk before she posted her video.
“Lori, to use your words, you ‘fucked up.’ It’s quite simple,” he wrote. “Fix it or I’ll sue you.”
In a follow-up TikTok on Dec. 4, Murray mentioned that Gordon’s fiery email was better written better than his book. And, she said, she would not retract anything.
By the time Murray and Gordon went on CourtTV on Monday, a clash was inevitable.
“You berated my wife and tied her in,” Gordon bristled at Murray, who shot back that Gordon reposted the video “for everyone to see.”
As the two quarreled, CourtTV host Vinnie Potlian tried to mediate as a third guest, the co-host of a Murdaugh podcast, looked on, amused. Before the segment ended, Gordon warned Murray that he sent “your little rant on to them at the Supreme Court in South Carolina, and I hope you get sanctioned.”
Gordon filed the complaint the next day. On Thursday, he said, he received a response from the Office of Professional Disciplinary Council with the South Carolina Judicial Branch, stating that an investigation will take several weeks to decide whether a case will move forward. The Office of Professional Disciplinary Council declined to comment, noting that the court “shall not reveal the existence of any complaint unless and until misconduct proceedings become public.”
Murray told The Daily Beast she is not worried about the complaint because she believes state officials will also see it as frivolous. Her only frustration, she said, is Gordon’s “petty” decision to go after her professionally because of what she does in her free time.
“I really think this complaint has more to do with him staying relevant and book sales and that he is angry at me for saying negative things about the shitty book,” she added.