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In re Petition of MP

Topic(s): Internet Free Speech - Right To Speak Anonymously

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The owner of a country club located in Del Mar, California (near San Diego), filed anonymously a petition for pre-litigation discovery in state court in Ft. Worth, Texas, seeking to identify the anonymous blogger and several anonymous commenters who posted statements on the Del Mar Country Club Sucks blog. She claimed that she was defamed by comments that complained about her management of the club as well as sneering at her for gaining control of the club by marrying its very wealthy owner. The blogger moved to quash and Public Citizen and the ACLU of Texas filed a brief as amicus curiae supporting the motion to quash, arguing that the petitioner had not justified filing suit in Texas over comments on a blog about a California country club, and that in any event the country club owner had not produced sufficient evidence to overcome the right to speak anonymously. After allowing the petitioner to amend her petition to meet the standard, the trial judge quashed the subpoena.