By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Former State Senator Lowell Barron (D) from Fyffe is under indictment for misusing campaign funds. Barron and his defense team are maintaining that he is innocent of all charges. On Monday, his attorney, Joe Espy, filed a string of motions addressing prosecutorial conduct.
Firstly, the defense team objected to directions by prosecutors to people who were subpoenaed telling them not to discuss their subpoena. Espy argues in the court filing that the prosecution has no authority to order witnesses to not discuss the details of their subpoena. The defense argues that instructing persons involved in the case to secrecy makes them hesitant to talk to anyone including the defense. The defense argues that this is making it harder for them to put on a defense. Then Espy is asking the court to direct prosecutors to send written notices to everyone who has received a subpoena in this case informing them that there is no prohibition against discussing the case with anyone including the defense.
Secondly, the defense team asked that all allegations by the prosecution against former Senator Barron by the attorney general’s office be kept under seal. The defense claimed that public comments about the case made by Attorney General Luther Strange (R) were designed to generate media coverage and influence the jury pool. The defense charged that in a previous high profile case, prosecutor Matt Hart used filings against former Governor Don Seigelman (D) to generate negative media comments about Seigelman and thus make it more likely that jurors could be influenced to convict the former Governor in that landmark public corruption trial. Anticipating that there could be additional allegations by prosecutors against Barron, Espy is asking that any such comments be kept under seal. Former Governor Seigelman is still in federal prison.
Thirdly, Espy claims that there may be a second grand jury which is investigating these charges or something very similar. In his filing, Espy charges that it is improper for prosecutors to use a grand jury to build a case for a pending trial. According to Espy’s filing, once a grand jury has returned an indictment its role is complete and it cannot be used to continue investigating the same matter. Espy seems to be arguing that using a grand jury for the purpose of preparing an existing indictment for trial is an improper use of the grand jury.
Finally the defense is charging that the prosecution has not given them all of the evidence that prosecutors have in this case, including possibly exculpatory evidence. Specifically the defense says that they have received only typed notes by prosecution investigator Tom Coram of oral statements by co-defendant Jill Johnson. If Coram was taking notes in the case, then likely there are more notes from interviews with other witnesses in this case. If there are such notes, the defense argues that they are entitled to those notes. The defense believes that prosecutors have interviewed several people about this case; but has not provided any of that evidence (whether transcripts or simple notes) to the defense team.
Senator Barron has been charged with six counts of illegally moving funds and a car from his campaign to then campaign worker Jill Johnson for duties not related to the campaign. The defense is maintaining Senator Baron’s innocence.