ST. LOUIS • Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Friday ordered lawyer Al Watkins to be deposed next week about the source of two $50,000 cash bundles delivered anonymously at his Clayton law firm a month before Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted on a felony charge of invasion of privacy.
"I think that's a relevant inquiry," Burlison told lawyers toward the end of an hour-long hearing Friday. "The answer to that question needs to be tracked down."
Watkins, who represents the ex-husband of the woman who accused Greitens of taking a partially nude photo of her without her consent in March 2015, told reporters Monday that the cash was delivered to his law firm by courier and that there was "no doubt" it was related to the case involving the governor. Watkins said he had "no idea" who the donor was. His statements followed a claim in court from Greitens' lawyers that the money came from a "political operative" to cover legal bills for the ex-husband.
On Friday, Watkins' lawyer Chuck Hatfield said one of Watkins' clients "was involved" in the delivery of one of the $50,000 payments, and therefore Watkins shouldn't have to disclose the source of the cash. Hatfield would not reveal the identity of the client and said the fact the money came via a client makes it privileged.
"What does it matter if the Church of Satan paid for them, or the NRA?" Hatfield said in court Friday of the ex-husband's legal bills. Hatfield argued that the money's source is irrelevant because the ex-husband's only role as a witness in the invasion of privacy case is to authenticate secret audio recordings he made of his then-wife describing the March 21, 2015, sexual encounter at the governor's home.
Greitens' lawyer Ed Dowd said the source of the money is relevant because it may reveal influence over a witness' testimony.
"It goes to credibility," he said. "If you can't attack or challenge the credibility of a witness, how can you possibly have a fair trial?"
"The whole thing just seems totally corrupt," Dowd said of the payments and of what he sees as the state's continued resistance to disclose evidence.
"The identity of the donor of the two $50,000 cash payments," Burlison said, is "relevant in determining the prejudice or bias" of the ex-husband.
Earlier this week, Burlison refused to allow defense lawyers to question former Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple about claims he provided money to Greitens’ accuser’s ex-husband. Temple denied providing any money to anyone.
Watkins will be deposed at 1 p.m. Monday barring attempts by his lawyers to appeal the judge's order to a higher court.
Burlison on Friday also ordered Greitens' accuser to produce her cellphone by Monday so that the defense can examine data of communication between her and her ex-husband. The judge said Richard Callahan, a senior Cole County circuit judge and former U.S. attorney in St. Louis, would serve as a special master over how the phone's contents were downloaded and shared with the defense.
The woman had appealed the order to turn over her phone, but an appeals court upheld it. On Friday, she appealed the order to the Missouri Supreme Court.
Greitens' trial is set for May 14.
Story has been updated to reflect that Temple is the former chair of the Missouri Democratic Party.