New court date set in BOE, journalists cases

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2024

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Retired 19th Circuit Judge Ben Fuller set a new hearing date to address motions to dismiss in the case of area journalists and county board of education members who are accused of allegedly revealing grand jury secrets. The new hearing date was set during a meeting of attorneys in the case on Wednesday at the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton.

Fuller, of Autauga County, who presided over the scheduling/motion hearing today, set the hearing date for Thurs., May 16, 2024, in the Escambia County Courthouse. Atmore News Publisher and Co-Owner Sherry A. Digmon, 73, of Atmore, and Reporter Don Fletcher, 69, were arrested Oct. 27, 2023 for allegedly revealing grand jury evidence in the newspaper’s Oct. 25, 2023 edition. In the Oct. 25 edition, subpoena and COVID checks were mentioned and names were noted, according to Atmore Advance archives. Also arrested some time later were Veronica Fore, Escambia County Schools System payroll clerk; and District 4 Board Member Cindy Jackson on the same charge.

After District Attorney Steve Billy recused himself from prosecuting the case, citing personal reasons, the Alabama Attorney General appointed Thomas Govan as the state’s prosecutor in the case.

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Govan and his assistant, along with Digmon, Fletcher, Fore and Jackson’s attorneys met in the back part of the courtroom for 32 minutes for a preliminary meeting to discuss the schedule and procedural motions. Fuller then went one by one on those who are accused of allegedly revealing grand jury evidence.

On Fletcher, Fuller noted that initially there was a preliminary hearing slated, but it was canceled due to him being indicted on the same charge. Cierra White, who is Fletcher, along with Digmon’s attorney, was asked if there is a motion to dismiss. White said they do have a motion to dismiss the case.

Govan requested additional time, asking Fuller for 30 days.

On the Digmon case, Fuller said there are two cases and four charges. Digmon is also accused of using her office for financial gain as a member of the board of education and ethics violations.

Fuller asked if there is a motion in the financial gain and ethics violations cases. White said there aren’t any in the case. Fuller asked for an update on the Fore case, and asked what she’s accused of.
“For disclosing grand jury information investigation to members of the media,” Govan said.

Govan said a short time later the sate is still in a position to gather facts, and can’t assure that they’re in a position to move forward right now.

Fuller then suggested consolidating the Fletcher, Digmon, Fore and Jackson cases, adding it would be beneficial to the court. Once the hearing date was established, Fuller said in the event the motions aren’t granted, the attorneys need to have a good idea of when to go to trial and how long it’ll take. He added he’d like to have a trial early this fall.
“I’d like to plan for a disposition then,” he said.