Public defenders swing back with motion to dismiss lawsuit filed by Kentucky deputy who attended Pro-Trump rally, riot at U.S. Capitol

Published 7:35 am Saturday, March 20, 2021

A group of public defenders swung back after they were sued by a Kentucky deputy who said his reputation was attacked after he attended the pro-Trump Washington, D.C., rally that preceded a siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Attorneys for Franklin County’s five public defenders on Wednesday filed a motion to dismiss Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Farmer’s defamation lawsuit against them.

Farmer filed the defamation lawsuit against all five Franklin County public defenders for damages exceeding $1 million. Farmer’s federal lawsuit claims that the public defenders “engaged in a vile, baseless, and vicious attack” when they circulated a letter critical of Farmer’s police conduct and his attendance at the pro-Trump Washington, D.C., rally that preceded a siege of the U.S. Capitol.

The public defenders, represented by Dinsmore law firm, provided additional text messages from an exchange previously quoted in Farmer’s complaint. The texts show that an officer in contact with public defender Kristin Gonzalez was critical of Farmer’s police conduct.

Their motion to dismiss the suit also claims that Farmer failed to properly identify instances in which the public defenders defamed him. They also argue that just as Farmer had a constitutional right to attend a pro-Trump rally — which preceded a Jan. 6 mob siege of the U.S. Capitol — they are allowed to criticize his decision to attend.

“In America, citizens have the right to express their views about Farmer’s choices,” the motion reads. “Farmer’s claim that he had a right to associate with the events of Jan. 6, 2021, but that the First Amendment does not also permit public comment on his choices, should be rejected by this Court.”

Wiest told The State Journal on Thursday that his team plans to file a response with Judge Karen Caldwell and that he believes the motion to dismiss should be rejected.