Attorney: Defamation lawsuit by Kentucky deputy who attended pro-Trump rally should be dismissed

Published 1:39 pm Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Kentucky judge has received the final response from a group of Kentucky public defenders who were sued for defamation by Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Farmer who attended the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally that preceded a mob siege of the U.S. Capitol.

Attorneys representing all five Franklin County public defenders filed the final response in an ongoing back-and-forth over whether a judge should dismiss the defamation lawsuit by Farmer.

Now Judge Karen Caldwell of the U.S. Eastern District of Kentucky will decide whether to grant or deny the defenders’ motion to dismiss the suit, which seeks more than $1 million in damages.

The defamation claim stems from a widely distributed letter the public defenders penned critical of Farmer’s attendance at the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally that preceded a mob siege of the U.S. Capitol.

In the most recent filing, defenders’ counsel reasserts previous claims about alleged shortcomings in Farmer’s suit.

The response claims that Farmer’s counsel, led by Northern Kentucky attorney Chris Wiest, exaggerated what the public defenders wrote in their initial letter.

Wiest said that the defenders’ letter included the “worst kind of lies” against Farmer.

The public defenders, through their attorney, say that none of the defenders’ claims are provably false. They also say that Farmer’s claim of “retaliation” against him is based not on the letter but on actions that were taken by others.

It adds that one test for Farmer’s defamation claim is whether the contents of the letter constituted an “adverse action” against him that would “deter a law enforcement officer of ordinary firmness” from political participation. Citing the fact that Farmer initiated political engagement with the public via social media and an interview with LEX18, the response indicated that he, along with other law enforcement and public officials officials, ought to have “thicker skin” when choosing to engage in political matters.