The defense attorneys for Sisney and Windstream have both requested the transcripts from the Grand Jury testimony and all relevant exhibits. They are entitled to see all the relevant testimony, and when everyone has had a chance to review it, there will be a Preliminary Examination hearing. It looks like it’s scheduled for November 29 but it’s hard to read so I’m not sure.
Apparently there is an issue with the way Windstream requested the transcripts. Windstream’s defense attorney asked the AG’s office who to send the application to; whether it should be the trial judge in Tulsa (Kellough) or the presiding judge for the Grand Jury in OKC (Swinton). Someone in the AG’s office replied that it should be Kellough because the grand jury had been dissolved. But the AG’s office has filed to stop the transcripts from being provided. Sisney’s attorney, on the other hand, filed the application with Swinton, and there seems to be no problem with that.
Why is the AG’s office trying to stop Windstream from getting the documents through the Tulsa court? They suggested that Windstream apply directly to Swinton, so clearly they are not against Windstream receiving the testimony they are entitled to. Judge Kellough overruled the AG’s request to block Windstream’s application for the documents, ordering that the transcripts be sent to him for review first. The AG then file a Motion to Stay, to prevent this order from being carried out until an appeals court could rule on it.
At issue appears to be the possibility that the documents from the Grand Jury’s sessions will contain additional testimony that is not relevant to the bribery case, and that needs to be kept confidential. Since the testimony Windstream requested is limited to that of the specific witnesses involved in the bribery case, it seems likely that this information also involves Sisney and the Broken Arrow Schools.
Why would it be okay for Sisney to get his copies from Judge Swinton, while it’s not okay for Windstream to get their copies through the Tulsa court? I don’t know, but maybe going through the judge who presided over the grand jury involves certain steps to ensure that only relevant information is turned over. The grand jury judge would be more familiar with ongoing investigations than the judge assigned to the criminal case, so would be better able to determine which information needed to be kept confidential. Maybe more importantly, the AG’s office understandably does not want anyone outside the grand jury to have access to information regarding its investigations – not even a judge.
I can understand why Windstream’s attorneys were confused by the AG’s objection after being told by his office to apply in the Tulsa court, but why not just re-apply to Judge Swinton? It seems like Judge Kellough’s order just made more work and delays for everybody, now that it has to go to an appeals court. And why would he prefer to review the transcripts himself for relevancy, knowing that it could breach the confidentiality of ongoing grand jury investigations? This is just me guessing at what’s going on, but clearly the AG’s office has a reason for trying to stop the transcripts from being released in this manner.
Maybe Sisney’s attorneys could just make Windstream a copy and be done with it.
The hearing to decide on the AG’s motion for the stay is today, October 16. I will update this article when the outcome is posted. Update 10/22/2012: Judge Kellough has signed the Order for the stay. It looks like the question of Windstream’s request for transcripts goes to an appeals court now.
Upcoming events in Sisney’s bribery/conspiracy felony case: