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Appellate Court rules defamatory remarks not allowed at county board meeting

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A court gavel
A court gavel

BARRON COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - Officials who speak at county board meetings do not have the free right to make defamatory remarks against somebody.

That’s what a state appeals court ruled today, when it found that former Barron County Administrator Duane Hebert was partially liable for defaming a former highway official.

Ex-county patrol superintendent Gene Anderson took Hebert to court for allegedly making defamatory remarks about his job performance during a County Board meeting in 2008.

Hebert said he was immune from liability, claiming he had legislative privilege to make his remarks.

But the Third District Appellate Court in Wausau ruled that no such privilege existed at the time.

The court did, however, reduce a fine levied by a circuit judge.

Hebert’s penalty is now $50,000, instead of the $150,000 ordered earlier.

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