Judge expects reasonableness in Tyler Farmer’s drug dealing case

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By Damon Lawrence

Criminal Court Judge Eugene Eblen ruled the state has to be “reasonable” when it comes to providing defense counsel with information about confidential informants.
Accused drug dealer Tyler Farmer wanted prosecutors to disclose the name, address and telephone number of the informant in his criminal case. A hearing was held on the matter earlier this month. 
“We are proposing that a 30-day period would be more than fair,” Deputy District Attorney General Frank Harvey said. “In other words, 30 days prior to trial in a case we would provide the name of the CI, and if requested, make that CI available.”
John McFarland, Farmer’s attorney, didn’t like the state’s proposal.
“Did I hear right that they propose they should only have to disclose a material witness 30 days before a trial?” McFarland asked.
“That was his (Harvey’s) suggestion,” Eblen said. 
“That seems ludicrous to me, your honor,” McFarland responded.
Assistant Public Defender Walter Johnson didn’t like the state’s proposal, either.
“There’s nothing in the law anywhere that addresses 30 days,” Johnson said. “We ask the court to deny whatever it is the state’s wanting to do.”
McFarland said prosecutors were asking Eblen to make a local rule on an issue of law. Harvey disagreed. 
“What the court will require is being reasonable,” Eblen said. “For the disclosure of confidential informants, 30 days seems like a good stopping point that must disclose within a reasonable amount of time and no later than 30 days. Then if that causes a problem with the docket on either side we’ll take that up on a motion.”
Eblen said it will be up to the police officers to make their confidential informants available to defense counsel. 
“If the officers fail to make them available, then the case will be gone,” Eblen said.
Officers from different agencies in the Ninth Judicial District, which consist of Roane, Loudon, Meigs and Morgan  counties, attended the hearing.
“Having the folks that are doing the work in the field hear what you expect from us, them and the defense attorneys, I appreciate you going through that analysis with us,” District Attorney General Russell Johnson told Eblen.
Farmer faces three counts of selling suboxone and oxycodone in a school zone. His father is former Roane County executive Mike Farmer.