Prominent Hanford defense attorney arrested

HANFORD, Calif.

/*Winspur*/ is accused of showing up to court at the Government Center in Hanford intoxicated on three different occasions. She Action News, in a phone interview, that she is denying the all allegations and will be fighting the charges.

Michelle Winspur was first known as a hard-hitting prosecutor for the Kings County District Attorney's Office. She won several high-profile cases, including 14-year-old Brittany Norris, who was convicted of killing her mother and mother's boyfriend.

Since that 2006 case, Winspur left the D.A.'s office and now represents high profile murder suspects. Most recently, Jose Saldana, who accused of stabbing to death a woman at a Hanford car wash this past summer.

In court on Friday, Winspur was not present for Saldana's preliminary hearing. She was arrested Thursday for showing up to court intoxicated. A bailiff reported he saw Winspur in the parking lot showing signs of intoxication.

"Some field sobriety tests some tests for drug and alcohol recognition. And the conclusion of that deputy that he believed she was under the influence of a controlled substance," said Commander Dave Putnam with the Kings County Sheriff's Office, "And then as she walked into court he noticed she was exhibiting symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance."

A drug test showed she had opiates in her system. Winspur, says she was not under the influence and had taken a cough syrup for a cold. The incident comes two months after she was arrested for driving under the influence in the court parking lot.

Michelle Winspur is already facing possible disbarment from the State Bar Association after she appeared drunk during a trial last year.

According to documents on the State Bar Association website -- in court, the defendant told the judge, "Your honor, I just feel that although my attorney is trying to do a good job for me, her vision may be impaired by alcohol. I noticed different variations of movement and repetitive questions."

The court asked, "You think that your counsel's performance may be impaired by alcohol at this time?"

The defendant responded, "At this time I do."

The report goes on to say she was intoxicated during numerous points in the trial.

In a written response, Winspur denied she was ever intoxicated in court.

Michelle Winspur says she is in the process of entering rehab. Her status on the Jose Saldana case is still undetermined.

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