Washington Road billboard supports Reality Winner

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018
(News 12 at 5:30/News 12 at 6 O'Clock)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – In a sea of advertisements and restaurant signs in Columbia County, a new billboard stands out. It shows the face of Reality Winner.

Winner is charged for allegedly handing classified documents over to a website called The Intercept last year. The billboard, near Ruth’s Family Diner and Carolina Pottery on Washington Road, says a group called the Whistleblowers paid for it.

Reality’s mom, Billie Jean Davis, told News 12 she wasn’t involved in the billboard, and she was shocked to see it.

“When I was sent the billboard pictures last week I was just astonished. It was amazing,” Davis said, still surprised by the act of strangers.

Federal judge Randall Hall, however, isn’t happy to see the ad on the busy Columbia County roadway. Though he hasn’t made a statement since it went up, he did file a court order warning Reality’s attorneys.

The order reminds the defense team that any violation of a law that makes it legal for court officers to publicly discuss cases “will not be tolerated”.

But Reality’s attorneys say they didn’t know anything about the billboard or the people who put it up.

“It worries me that the court would not want the world to know about what is happening in this case,” Davis told News 12.

Judge Hall echoes precedents set in other cases, saying attorneys have “responsibility not to engage in public debate that will obstruct the fair administration of justice.”

Davis hopes her daughter’s lawyers won’t be punished for her continues advocacy for Reality.

“It scares me that there might be retaliation because of things myself or other supporters are doing.”

Davis and Reality’s legal team say they didn't know about the billboard until after it was put up. But Davis did tell News 12 she found out their Justice for Reality campaign manager was coordinating with the group who paid for it.