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Briefs in Herbster-Slama lawsuits argue over statements, muzzling lawyer

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OMAHA — Attorneys for Nebraska agribusinessman Charles Herbster filed a brief Friday arguing why he should be able to add to his original defamation lawsuit against State Sen. Julie Slama.

They argued that other statements by Slama and her lawyer should be included because they defamed Herbster. They want a judge to keep Slama’s lawyer from discussing the case publicly.

“The case should be tried in the courtroom, not via dueling press statements or interviews with media members,” Herbster’s lawyers Theodore Boecker Jr. and David Warrington wrote.

Attorneys for Slama, who counter-sued Herbster for sexual battery and defamation, argued in a new filing Friday that Herbster’s proposed changes to his lawsuit argue nothing new.

Slama’s team also wrote that court rules governing pre-trial publicity left them no choice but to speak because Herbster and his supporters publicly attacked her credibility and allegation.

Slama’s lawyers highlighted eight “statements deployed by Charles Herbster, his agents, or other third parties,” including a statewide political ad that attacked Slama and her allegation. 

“Given the broader context, the statements made by Senator Slama’s counsel are protected by the trial publicity rule,” Slama’s lawyers Marnie Jensen and Dave Lopez argued.

Slama, of Dunbar, is one of eight women who alleged in an April 14 Nebraska Examiner article that Herbster groped them. Her lawsuit alleges Herbster touched her up her skirt during a fundraising dinner.

Slama’s attorneys have sought to get moving on her lawsuit and depose Herbster and campaign surrogates, including consultants who worked for former President Donald Trump.

Herbster, of Falls City, has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyers have spent much of late spring and early summer seeking to narrow depositions sought by Slama’s team for her counter-lawsuit.

His attorneys have not discussed their aims. Herbster has said the groping allegations were part of a political conspiracy by his enemies, led by Gov. Pete Ricketts, which Ricketts denies.

Herbster lost the Republican nomination for governor to University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who had Ricketts’ backing. Herbster was endorsed by Trump.

Johnson County District Judge Rick Schreiner sought the briefs after a contentious day in court in mid-June. He has given the lawyers until mid-July to respond to one another’s filings.

He asked them to try again to negotiate the depositions and come back to court only if he needs to referee a dispute they cannot resolve on their own. They’re expected back in court Aug. 15.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: info@nebraskaexaminer.com. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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