Raw Notes from Testimony of Attorney Debra Winston - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Raw Notes from Testimony of Attorney Debra Winston

These are raw notes transcribed from paper of Tuesday's hearing.  No computers were allowed to be used in the courtroom.  This is NOT an official transcript but is provided to give readers a flavor of what witnesses were saying.

Debra Bennett Winston is an attorney and she says a judge for the city of Midfield, Alabama.  She is a member of the state Bar Association in good standing and an attorney admitted to the Middle District of Alabama.  Winston says she did bring the documents the court requested.  The documents relate do Alice Stanford and Juror #5 and Rev. Hudson.

She provided the originals of the affidavits for all three.

Winston says she met "Rev. Hudson years ago with my husband."  She says prior to August 8, 2006 she had not met or been aware of Alice Stanford or Juror #5.

"I became aware of Juror #5 along with Alice Stanford around that time but the exact date or dates escape me..Sometime the first part of August I became aware that Juror #5 wanted to meet with me about some type of stressful problem.  At that time I really didn't understand what that was because the conversations were between Rev. Hudson and my husband."

Winston says she thought the problems were just "typical of problems pastors have with their parishioners."

Winston says she became aware of the problem but had no contacts prior to receiving a hard copy of Juror #5's first affidavit.

 "I became aware of it when he said he was talking to Rev. Hudson about Rev. Hudson's problems."  The judge advises that he wants to keep Rev. Hudson's personal problems out of it at this point.

Winston says her husband returned with the first affidavits "around the 8th or 9th (of August)."

She says her husbands comments about the documents being notarize before 8 a.m. were "Consistent with my recollection."  She says she believe she first saw the affidavits for the first time "very close to the 9th."

"I wanted to discuss whit my husband the specific details  of  the affidavits...I did not agree...If you prepare a document you don't need to notarize it yourself...My understanding is it was not notarized in front of Alice Stanford, Juror #5, or Rev. Hudson..."

Concerning the affidavits and there relation to the Montgomery trial, "I felt there would be a problem with authenticating due to not being notarized...I became concerned at that time something was going on.  I felt a trial of this magnitude, if there had been any foul play it needed to be brought to attention of the court...I decided just to explore to see if there was any validity to affidavit."

Concerning possible contact with any attorney for Richard Scrushy or Don Siegelman, Winston said the following, "I called Mr. Butts and left a message and called Mr. Kilborn and left a message.  Kilborn called me back the next day around the 18th.  It was on a Saturday.  I remember I was on a church bus trip...the notations are in the folder."

Winston says she believes Kilborn is the first attorney she spoke with.  Her notations indicate Kilborn returned the call on the 19th and "came to visit on Aug. 20."

She met with Kilborn in her office in Birmingham.  She says it was around 12 or 12:30 and it was on a Sunday.  She indicated David McDowell accompanied Mr. Kilborn, which brought a mild chuckle from Mr. McDonald.  The judge asked Winston if it could be Mr. McDonald and she responded affirmatively.  She says it was just the two, McDonald and Kilborn.

She indicated at the meeting she gave the attorneys copies of the affidavits.  "The discussions were how did this come about?  Is this true?  I didn't know how to get it to the court.  I just wanted to give these to him and he was free to do what he wanted..When I discovered there was a flaw in their execution, I wrote another one and sent it to them.  Mr. Kilborn wanted to know if I wanted to come forth and I told him whatever the court needed me to do."

Talk then turned to a draft letter addressed to "Vince."  She says she doesn't believe that particular letter was sent to anyone.  She says she had written it and prepared to send it to Mr. Kilborn.  It was with the documents she gave the lawyers at the meeting.  She says she doesn't believe she discussed the letter with him "at that time."

Winston says, "The next step I was wanting to get some type of direction from them and send me copies which I don't have yet...I on my own went to Juror #5 and wrote it up and told him I had a second affidavit because of the deficiency.  I know I did not tell him on the 20th about the deficit."

"Did you tell your husband all along?"  Yes.

Winston tells the judge she and her husband talk frequently.  She says the associate she sent down to Ozark was her husband.

As to McDonald and Kilborn's reaction:  "They were surely thrown by the content and what I had to show them.  It was a surprise to them."

"Did they make a suggestion you follow up with them?"

"No sir, after I contacted Juror #5 again I contacted Kilborn again on Sept. 1...After I secured the affidavit...I have another affidavit."

Winston says she and her husband left Ozark and "went to Jonesboro, Georgia."  The judge wanted to know the purpose of the trip and she told him "a wedding."

"After you contacted him on Sept. 1 what did he ask?"

"Fax him a copy...I went to a hotel in Ozark and could not get it to go through...the next day I faxed from a Staples store in Atlanta, Georgia."

Winston says,"The cover sheet I've misplaced and the original of the affidavit I mailed to Mr. Kilborn."

The judge wanted to know about any other contact since Sept. 1.  "I spoke with David McDonald, I believe within the last week to let him know I understood I was to get subpoenaed.  He explained "I was to come and set the record straight."

Winston says she did not make Kilborn aware of the notary deficiency at the meeting.  "I did not know what they were planning in doing.  I thought they would tell me, at least of copy of what they were preparing...Mr. McDonald told me they had submitted everything."

Winston tells the judge she has not been compensated by anyone.  Judge Fuller asks, "Any hope?" 

"I've not really discussed, but since I'm already working for Rev. Hudson and he was doing this for his parishioners."

Winston says she has been practicing law 15 years and has prepared many affidavits.

Judge Fuller says, "I'm concerned about the style of the affidavit because of the question and answer format."

Winston replies, "Actually when I went to Ozark, I met several times with Rev. Hudson and we were in a rush to go back so I just kept the original format my husband had started...(These were) Juror #5's words, I did not add or detract from...came about due to the way he was giving information..."

"Why did you feel it necessary only to contact defense attorneys?"

"I don't know how to answer that, because I felt this was a defense issue," responded Winston.

The judge is still not satisfied that as an officer of the court, attorney Watson did not contact the court and/or the government.

Winston says, "I thought about it knowing that the government and the court would get it."

The judge shifts gears and asks if before May 1, 2006, Winston knew Siegelman or Scrushy.

Winston says, "Yes" to knowing Scrushy.

"I have no relationship with Mr. Scrushy...Prior to being an attorney 20 years ago he was director of respiratory therapy  at the University of Alabama Birmingham, I was a secretary and worked for his boss Tom Abercrombie.  No affiliation, no relationship, just knew of him as one of the directors."

"How long did that relationship last?"

"I worked 1978 until maybe 1980."

Winston says she had no relationship "whatsoever."

The judge wants to know if she has met with Scrushy from 1980 to the present.  "Never met with him no sir."  She says she has not attended a religious service where Scrushy was nor has Scrushy been a speaker at her husband's church.  Winston says she has not been contacted by anyone, including attorneys, that worked for Scrushy. She says other than Kilborn and McDonald, she has no contact with anyone from the Siegelman team.

Winston says the trip to Ozark "originated between Rev. Hudson and my husband."  She says the meeting was held at Rev. Hudson church with Juror #5 and Alice Stanford."

She says she thinks Juror#5, Hudson, her husband, Alice Stanford, and herself were present."

The judge asks if the second affidavit is Juror #5's response "word for word"?  "It is."  She says the document was notarized that night.

She says she took the affidavit with her to Jonesboro, Georgia where she faxed it to Mr. Kilborn's office on the Sept. 2.  "Somewhere around the 5th or 6th I mailed it to Mr. Kilborn."

"Did you mail it with a cover letter?" 

"No sir I did not."

Mr. Franklin indicates he would like to look at the draft letter discuss previously with "Vince" on it as does Mr. Leach.  The judge tells them they will have the opportunity to review.

"Any written or e-mail correspondence between your offices (Kilborn and Winston) after August 20, 2006?"

"Yes sir.  After I was subpoenaed I contacted Mr. McDonald and told him I had yet to receive copies of what he filed in court."

Winston goes on to tell the judge she has an older computer and "a lot of attachments with e-mail don't work."

"Who is your ISP?" Judge Fuller wants to know.  "AOL" is the response. She also gives the judge here username which I will not post.

"Any written correspondence?"  No sir.  "Any written or e-mail correspondence with other attorneys for Siegelman?" No sir.  "Scrushy?" No sir.

After listing the four affidavits in question, Judge Fuller asks Winston if she is aware of any other affidavits.  "No I am not your honor."

"Any evidence of faxes, e-mail or copies of any of these documents referred to in this hearing for counsel of Richard Scrushy sent to them?"  No sir.

"Did you prepare a package for counsel  of defendant Scrushy?" 

"No sir I never communicated with them nor communicated with the government."

There is something here about Scrushy motion for a new trial but I did not catch it.

"After original affidavits was first recorded when was it you decided a second affidavit needed to be secured?"

"Maybe a day or so prior to meeting with Mr. Kilborn and Mr. McDonald.  I thought the authenticity was a problem.  I did not (mention it).  I did not know what they were going to do with this.  After the second I thought they were going to use the second one.  I didn't know they were going to use all of them."

Judge Fuller now goes through questions related to the two affidavits having to do directly with Juror #5.

The judge says on exhibit #4 there are 15 questions and 15 answers.  "At least seven of these questions and answers concern complaints Juror #5 had with ...court pressure and Juror #5 reaching a verdict, failed to grant a mistrial, failed to talk with the jury, post-trial stress or how to handle stress in a high profile case..."

The judge says exhibit #6 has five questions and answers, he says two of those question could be referred to as complaints from the juror about pressure applied during the deliberation process.

"Do you have any explanation why half dealt with pressure from the court (in the first affidavit) and less than a third in the second affidavit dealt with complaints against the court?"

"As I testified earlier, my husband was more concerned about Juror #5's stress load..."

"When I saw about Internet search a light bulb went off in my head.  I knew the affidavit was flawed by the notary.  So, when I decided to question I focused in on what was going on in the jury room not his feelings and his stress level.  He was very adamant he wanted the judge to feel how he felt...Since I already had some experience in jury deliberations, I knew that wasn't a concern (feelings).  So I explored what he could tell me...I felt it imperative this court should find out."

"Not in any way affected by conversations with Kilborn or McDonald? "

"I didn't know that Kilborn or McDonald knew I was preparing a second affidavit."

"Was the given purpose, your intention of preparing the second affidavit with the intention it would be forwarded to Kilborn and McDonald as they were preparing a motion for a new trial?"  Yes sir.

"Are you familiar with Local Rule 47.1?"  "I believe I am your honor."

Judge Fuller reads rule 47.1 to Winston.

"Do you feel that does not encompass the conduct you just described to me?"

"No sir, he came to me..."

"To secret it to one of the parties so it can be filed as a post-trial motion?"

"My intent was to get it before the court," says Winston.

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