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Garrett v. Better Publications, LLC

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


After a Charlottesville, Virginia blogger reported on a defamation action that a colorful local figure had brought against a newspaper for its reports on criminal charges lodged against the plaintiff, the plaintiff subpoenaed the blogger to produce all of his communications with sources for his blog post, and to identify everybody who had posted anonymous comments about the blog post or even read the blog post online. Public Citizen, working with the ACLU of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression, opposed the plaintiff's motion to compel discovery, contending both that the blogger is a journalist and hence protected by the qualified privilege of journalists not to identify their sources or produce their working materials, and that the anonymous posters were protected by the qualified privilege to speak anonymously. After we opposed the subpoena, the plaintiff withdrew its request for a hearing on its motion to compel discovery.