Johnson County District Judge Rick Schreiner presides over a recent hearing involving a legal battle between State Sen. Julie Slama and businessman Charles Herbster. (Pool photo by Justin Wan/Lincoln Journal Star)
LINCOLN — A lawyer for State Sen. Julie Slama is calling an attempt by former gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster to amend his defamation lawsuit “futile” and a delaying tactic.
Herbster, a Falls City businessman, filed suit after Slama and seven other women accused him of sexually groping them. Slama told the Nebraska Examiner that Herbster had reached up her dress at a Republican event and touched her inappropriately.
Slama, a law student who represents southeast Nebraska in the Legislature, countersued.
Herbster, who has denied the accusations, has filed legal motions to amend his original lawsuit, claiming that the allegations against him had changed from “groping” to “sexual assault” and that Slama’s attorney was attempting to try the legal battle in the media.
Slama’s lead attorney, David Lopez, rejected those claims in a five-page legal response posted Monday.
He wrote that his comments to the media are within the state’s guidelines for conduct by lawyers when dealing with trial publicity and that Herbster used his “media bullhorn” to attack the state senator.
Lopez also argued that Herbster’s own lawsuit stated that he was accused of a sexual assault, and that “groping” is a sexual assault, according to Nebraska state statutes.
Herbster’s recent requests, according to Lopez, “only confirms that the true purpose of amendment is to interfere with Senator Slama’s counsel and unduly delay this litigation.”
No new legal filings by Herbster’s legal team had appeared by the time the court closed Monday.
The presiding judge in the case, Johnson County District Judge Rick Schreiner, had asked lawyers on both sides to submit written arguments over Herbster’s recent motion. Arguments from Herbster’s attorneys had not yet been posted as of Monday morning.
The next court hearing in the matter is scheduled for Aug. 15.
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