LIVINGSTON - On November 19, 2020, visiting Judge, Joe Ned Dean, denied a motion to dismiss filed by the Respondents in a defamation lawsuit filed by Polk County Assistant District Attorney, Tommy L. Coleman. According to court documents, Coleman filed the lawsuit against the Polk County Enterprise and its former editor, Valerie Reddell, after the paper published a news article accusing Coleman of playing a role in the wrongful conviction of a defendant. The article, authored by Reddell, was published just days after Reddell left a heated voicemail message on Coleman’s cell phone expressing her displeasure at a social media post Coleman made supporting another local news outlet. Court records indicate Reddell’s message stated, “Tommy, this is Valerie Reddell, I need you to call me right away and explain your post…but we’ll probably be having our attorneys call you…” Instead of receiving a call from her attorneys, Coleman became the subject of Reddell’s news story entitled “Battle Lines Drawn Over Prosecutor’s Conduct”. The article, which appeared on the front page of the paper, accused Coleman of assisting with the prosecution of a defendant in a murder case whose conviction was eventually overturned. Once Tanner Franklin, the attorney representing Coleman, contacted the Enterprise and informed them that Coleman was not even a licensed attorney at the time of the trial, the Enterprise printed a “correction”. Despite publishing the correction, The Enterprise and Reddell now maintain in their court filings, that the allegation is somehow true. “I have the utmost confidence in my attorney, Tanner Franklin and his legal ability,” stated Coleman. “ I believe the law is on our side and I believe that once a Polk County jury is given the opportunity to evaluate the evidence in this case, they will agree,” Coleman added.
Valerie Reddell at the scene of a hotel fire in 2011.
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