FRANKFORT – An attorney representing state Rep. Will Coursey in a retaliation lawsuit brought by a legislative staff member has asked that “smut-filled” depositions in the case be sealed.
William Johnson, a Frankfort attorney representing Coursey, described questions asked of Coursey in the case’s initial deposition as “the kind of smut and gossip that the media and the public would love, but has nothing to do with the relevance of this case.”
Coursey, the District 6 representative, is from Benton.
And attorneys for other defendants in the case — the Legislative Research Commission and former LRC Director Robert Sherman — gave similar descriptions of the Coursey deposition and said they may join the motion filed by Johnson.
The motions come in a case filed in Franklin Circuit Court by legislative staff member Nicole Cusic alleging Coursey took steps that led to her transfer after she accused him of “inappropriate conduct” toward female staffers and interns in 2012.
Coursey, D-Symsonia, has denied Cusic’s allegations and filed a defamation lawsuit against her in Marshall Circuit Court.
Depositions were taken of both Coursey and Cusic in the case this year, but neither has been filed in court record. Excerpts of Coursey’s video deposition, however, have been posted on the Page One Kentucky blog.
Johnson said the posting has made Coursey “a victim of a high-tech lynching. ... First case I’ve ever practiced where opposing counsel has tried a case on the Internet.”
Cusic’s attorney, Thomas Clay of Louisville, admitted he released the deposition. He said he did so to counter statements by Coursey that Cusic was “trying to cash in by smearing my name.”
Clay said, “If he (Coursey) wants to go to war in the media, that’s fine. Let’s get it on.”
Johnson said that while the Internet posting of the Coursey deposition cannot be reversed, “I still want to seal all of the depositions in this case because ... the questions that Mr. Clay is asking are so scurilous and smut-filled that they should not be in the public domain.”
Johnson said the Coursey deposition “asked about members of the House of Representatives who are not in any way connected to this lawsuit.”
Leslie Vose, an attorney for the LRC, said the deposition included “vituperative, unnecessary personal attacks.” She said the motion to seal “may be appropriate.”
Gary Crabtree, Sherman’s attorney, agreed. But Crabtree’s main concern was that he was not given notice to attend either of the depositions of Coursey or Cusic. “It’s fundamental under our rules that a party has a right not only to attend, but to cross-examine, at a deposition,” Crabtree said. He asked that the depositions be thrown out.
Judge Thomas Wingate said he’s inclined to strike the depositions and allow them to be retaken with lawyers for all parties present.
He gave Clay 10 days to file a written response to the motion to seal depositions.