Atmore News publisher/co-owner, news reporter indicted for revealing grand jury evidence

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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The Atmore News’ co-owner/publisher and news reporter have been indicted by an Escambia County grand jury for revealing grand jury evidence, according to court records.

Sherry Digmon, 72, and Don Fletcher, 69, both of Atmore, are accused of “corruptly obtaining information pertaining grand jury considerations, evidence or other matters taken or transpiring within or before a grand jury, to-wit: obtained and disclosed information in a grand jury subpoena, in violation of Code of Alabama 12-16-215. More than a month ago, both were arrested for allegedly publishing grand jury evidence on Oct. 27.

According to Advance archives, the October arrest stemmed from the publishing of an article, which was in the Atmore News, where a subpoena and COVID checks were mentioned, and “even called out some names,” District Attorney Steve Billy said then. The article was published in the Wed., Oct. 25, edition.

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District Attorney Steve Billy said Tuesday (Dec. 5) that both were indicted for obtaining the information from Escambia County (Ala.) Schools System Board Member Cindy Jackson, who was arrested and indicted Monday for allegedly revealing grand jury information.

“Ms. Jackson illegally obtained it, and of course, they (Digmon and Fletcher allegedly) illegally obtained it and published it,” Billy said. “She (Jackson) sent it to, and it’s not evident she sent it to any other board members, but she sent it to Ms. Digmon.”

Digmon also serves on the board of education for District 6.

When asked how Jackson acquired the grand jury information, Billy said he’s not going to comment at this time, as the matter is still being investigated.

The indictments on Digmon and Fletcher came after the grand jury was called back into session on Dec. 1.

Billy said the reason why the grand jury was called because a rash of jail assaults have occurred that are pretty serious.

“We had another individual we had a capital murder case we needed to get in front of the grand jury that was pressing,” he said. “We called them back on the capital murder case, and these cases were pending and we just presented all of them at one time.”

Due to the indictments, a preliminary hearing for Digmon and Fletcher on Dec. 4 was canceled.

Billy said preliminary hearings are a pre-grand jury hearing.

“You have a hearing before the judge and the judge will determine there’s enough probable cause to bind that to a grand jury,” he said.

When asked if there are any future arrests coming, Billy said there are some things that are still under investigation.

“They’re still collecting some information,” Billy said. “We’re going to see how that information plays out. All of this just came out of the blue. You can’t predict how people are doing to react to certain things. We certainly didn’t expect all of this to happen.”

The code by which Digmon and Fletcher were arrested (12-16-215) states: Grand juror, witness, etc., prohibited from revealing, disclosing, etc., a juror’s questions, considerations, etc.; no person to directly, indirectly, etc., by any means obtain information as to juror’s questions, considerations, etc. No past or present grand juror, past or present grand jury witness or grand jury reporter or stenographer shall willfully at any time directly or indirectly, conditionally or unconditionally, by any means whatever, reveal, disclose or divulge or attempt or endeavor to reveal, disclose or divulge or cause to be revealed, disclosed or divulged, any knowledge or information pertaining to any grand juror’s questions, considerations, debates, deliberations, opinions or votes on any case, evidence, or other matter taken within or occurring before any grand jury of this state. Nor shall any person at any time, directly or indirectly, conditionally or unconditionally by any means whatever, corruptly or with intent to influence a grand juror or other person authorized by law to attend a grand jury, or by threat of harm to person or property, or by force applied to person or property, or by threatening letter or communication, or by offer of reward, remuneration, gift, benefit or thing of value of whatever nature or kind, obtain or endeavor to obtain, any information pertaining to, or any knowledge of any grand juror’s questions, considerations, debates, deliberations, opinions or votes on any case, evidence or other matter taken or transpiring within or before any grand jury of this state.

Digmon and Fletcher didn’t have a comment as of this story being published.