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Judge: Newspaper must provide information leading to identity of blog commenter

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Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 12:15 am | Updated: 10:38 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - A judge on Tuesday ruled that the Spokesman-Review must give a local Republican leader information that could lead to the identity of an anonymous commenter who posted to one of the newspaper's blogs.

The former chair of the Kootenai County Republican Party Central Committee, Tina Jacobson, wants the name because she believes the person defamed her by suggesting she stole $10,000 from the local party.

The newspaper tried to quash Jacobson's subpoena for the information, but in a 24-page written ruling 1st District Court Judge John Luster decided she's entitled to it.

Jacobson's subpoena also sought the identity of two other anonymous commenters on the Spokesman-Review blog, Huckleberries Online. The newspaper doesn't have to provide identifying information for those two.

Jacobson believes the other two are witnesses to the alleged defamation on Feb. 14 by commenter "almostinnocentbystander."

All three made comments below a photograph posted to Huckleberries Online showing former presidential candidate Rick Santorum's visit to Coeur d'Alene. Jacobson could be seen in the background of the photograph.

Huckleberries Online is administered by longtime Spokesman-Review journalist Dave Oliveria, who deleted the comment about $10,000, but it had been visible for 2 1/2 hours.

Luster also ordered the newspaper to provide a document confirming that "almostinnocentbystander" has not been re-established as a commenter on Spokesman-Review blogs.

The ruling said the newspaper must provide to Jacobson a copy of any communication between the Spokesman-Review's employees and "almostinnocentbystander."

The other two commenters used the names "Phaedrus" and "OutofStaterTater" on the newspaper's website.

"Phaedrus" fired off a quick comment on Huckleberries Online after the ruling was filed: "So that's what happened? I was hoping to have a chance to tell Tina and her attorneys to kiss my bum. Ah well, another day, perhaps."

The newspaper has 14 days to comply with Luster's ruling.

"We're in the process of evaluating (the ruling)," said Cowles Publishing Co. and Spokesman-Review attorney Duane Swinton. "We'll make our minds up on what we're going to do after that."

On the Spokesman-Review's website Tuesday night, reporter Thomas Clouse quoted the newspaper's editor, Gary Graham, as saying he has not decided whether to pursue an appeal.

Jacobson's attorney, C. Matthew Andersen, said the ruling is the first step in clearing Jacobson's "good name."

"(The ruling) restates the long-standing legal rule that there is no constitutional protected speech that is defamatory," Andersen said.

He said Luster found Jacobson has shown evidence of "per se defamation and she would prevail on the record filed."

Asked what the plan is now, Andersen said, "The court's order is the court's order. Ms. Jacobson intends to proceed in accord with the judge's order."

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27 comments:

  • manman posted at 2:07 am on Wed, Jul 25, 2012.

    manman Posts: 46

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  • Ciscokid posted at 12:58 pm on Fri, Jul 13, 2012.

    Ciscokid Posts: 3

    Made an accusation that defamed? Are you kidding me?? So what, is this now another area exclusively reserved for politicians only? I mean really, we listen to politicians do this kind of lying all the time!! I've read worse than this kind of stuff on the national sites! Boo F'n HOO Tina! You want the political limelight? Here it is!!! Maybe I should delete my account now...... just in case!

     
  • the floorist posted at 7:58 am on Thu, Jul 12, 2012.

    the floorist Posts: 331

    An army of attorneys are dealing with this BS. As much as I'd like to see (their) names in lights for the Troll commentary, it pretty much goes against everything the first amendment preserves.

    Judge Luster must be looking for some publicity,

     
  • The Golden Mean posted at 10:57 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    The Golden Mean Posts: 4213

    "I'm just sick of name callers who are anonymous because they wouldn't say what they say if it was their real name"

    How do you know that? My real life friends call me most of the same names that my anonymous pretend friends here call me. And then there's my softball team, you should hear what they call me!

    I do sorta know what you mean though, it's like when people get behind the wheel of their cars and turn into raging overly aggressive monsters.

    In the end, we can force people to use their real names, but we can't force people to not believe what they believe.... and that's what I want to hear, I want to hear what people really think, I wanna hear the real truth and I think anonymous posting gets us closer to the heart of the issues.

     
  • straight up posted at 9:39 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    straight up Posts: 922

    Huckleberries IS the Cowles family. Oliveria is their North Idaho puppet.

    Their agenda their is orchestrated just like the Clintonista's.

    Attack and besmirch thine enemy and toss out endless talking points when you can't promote your own position.

     
  • Humanist posted at 7:53 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 2933

    Quote JoeIdaho: "You sit & attack me constantly, and I attack you back."

    I may "attack" your stance on some things, but I never name call. I am man enough to not reduce the conversation to something akin to a twelve year old bullying another kid on the playground. You, however, seem to think that it's just fine and dandy to repeatedly call individuals and groups names like morons. And at that point that behavior pretty much reduces any chance of anyone considering your opinion as being reasonable or rational to nil. So, keep it up, JoeIdaho, and everyone will keep snickering at the child like behavior behind your moniker.

     
  • DeNiles posted at 4:35 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    Polemical assaults in the digital world are quite common. Why I've been known to occasionally dabble in such disputatious things myself. Hard to believe, I know....... but t'is true. You can be colorfully descriptive, even insulting, pompous or outrageously and overtly bombastic. And you can do these things without crossing into slanderous territory. Sometimes heated debate reminds me of lawyerly jousting, probing for clues and scouring for answers and sometimes grasping at straws. But there's much to be experienced and much to be learned. And there's much fun to be had doing so. I got's my soapbox and you got's yours. And at times we get preachy from our soapboxes whilst standing in the litter box. Oh well.

     
  • The Golden Mean posted at 4:06 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    The Golden Mean Posts: 4213

    "GM is TWICE the Man you are becasue he knows when he's wrong"

    I've been wrong before? This is new for me, what do I do now?

    I guess I have no choice, I'll go turn on Faux News.

     
  • JoeIdaho posted at 3:29 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Also, I'm ASHAMED that a Republican is behind this.

     
  • JoeIdaho posted at 3:16 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Humanist, you're a moron.
    You sit & attack me constantly, and I attack you back. Your "claims" of what I am & am not are just flat out WRONG, butI'd NEVER think about "suing" you over it. You; onthe other hand, you back idiotic things like this as having validity, and why?
    Because you are a LIBERAL who thinks that people should have NO Freedoms. GM is TWICE the Man you are becasue he knows when he's wrong, and has faith in his convictions, even though I may disagree with him, I RESPECT his opinion. You on the other hand are just an uber-lib, just as bad as the farthest right wingers you rail against.
    So; I said you're a Moron. Gonna go get a bleeding heart judge to come after me because I insulted you? HINT HINT:
    You WOULD if you COULD, and you wish you COULD.
    And BTW, Milburn is a GREAT AMERICAN.

     
  • The Golden Mean posted at 2:27 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    The Golden Mean Posts: 4213

    "... there is a difference between thoughts and opinions and defamation"

    I agree. My thought is that the main difference is "perception" - Should perception really be an acceptable legal basis? I say no way, I do not want my life and agenda being subjected to and/or influenced by the the values and filters of anybody else, especially a government or religious organization.

    Ironically, any claims of defamation of character in this case are still speculative and subject to perception. In other words, speculation about speculation?!? And how does one measure defamation without using perception and speculation? What a mess! I don't know about you, but my opinion was influenced more by the law suit than the anonymous comments of any individual.

    I think we can all agree that we need laws to regulate certain actions and threats of aggression or violence, but our minds, thoughts, opinions, perceptions and speculations must remain boundryless (if that's a word).

    Perhaps the real problem are those who blindly accept accept anonymous comments without challenging them?

     
  • heatherfeather posted at 1:59 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    heatherfeather Posts: 297

    This story just went hot. Drudge linked the Spokesman article.

     
  • Humanist posted at 1:22 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 2933

    @GM: I agree with what you say, but there is a difference between thoughts and opinions and defamation. I think that individuals should be personally accountable (via the law) for any slanderous or libelous statements.

     
  • The Golden Mean posted at 12:33 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    The Golden Mean Posts: 4213

    "... personal accountability is one of the fundamental tenets of the republican ideology"

    As is less government intrusion into our personal lives, be they labeled anonymously or not.

    In concept, I agree that we should be accountable for what we say but I'm not sure who we should be accountable to. Accountability to self is subjective and prone to selfish motivators (see Right Wing). On the other hand, I do not want the government or any group policing my thoughts and opinions.

    Let's not forget that lies tend to make truths even stronger and that the truth should be routinely challenged to expose embedded assumptions (Example: Republican are for less government intrusion into our personal lives).

    A lot of great change and improvement takes place when people get angry (Example: Founding Fathers) - both voices need to be heard, not sued.

     
  • Humanist posted at 12:05 pm on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 2933

    Quote milburneschmidt: "I suppose we could let humanist decide which facts are correct "

    I really don't care what you post, right or wrong. But folks who post "anonymously" should be accountable for any libelous statements. I would think you all would be just fine with that since personal accountability is one of the fundamental tenets of the republican ideology.

     
  • milburnschmidt posted at 11:42 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    milburnschmidt Posts: 1161

    I hope the babe comment doesnt get me in court also. I usually like to tweak ugly liberbal female politicians who are usually angry and strident on TV nagging the public like they nag their siignificant othes, I guess this republican babe must be left leaning alsoo since they have no sense of humor. OOOps there I go again.

     
  • milburnschmidt posted at 11:38 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    milburnschmidt Posts: 1161

    Quit picking on my friend joeidaho. Next I suppose everyone will have to prove their ability or expertise to make a comment. This is the internet and you are free to make your own resume up and quote non existent expirience or knowledge and make a fool of yourself to the reading public. I suppose we could let humanist decide which facts are correct even though most posters who claim that ability ignore facts contrary to their arguments.As humanisat defames Joe Idaho he rails about defaming without facts. Give us a break. Retribution is certainly one way to uphold anonymous postings and very few would post if your name phone number and address was added to each comment. One should hope this ruling will be overturned and I see the decision is now on the natl news. The comment in question if reported correctly was did they check her person for the money. Hardly a comment that would lead to a lawsuit or show damage. It was a question not a statement and even though the babe in question was offended hardly worth all this fuss. Perhaps the Bush bashers comments could also come up for scrutiny and then the obama bashers with a litmus test before publishing.

     
  • the floorist posted at 9:13 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    the floorist Posts: 331

    I just had a novel idea...

    How about the "anonymous' persons in question just fess up now? Good as time as any...

    ...yanno...build that bridge and get over it...

    Save yourselves a lot of backpedaling...hahahahaha

     
  • the floorist posted at 8:48 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    the floorist Posts: 331

    So...now what? The only reason a person would be so concerned about maintaining their anonymity would be to hide the fact that they're, in some way, a political public figure from Idaho that was Trolling and got caught.

    Knowing their name may aid in setting the stage for a defamation suit, but as it's been stated before, the posts in question weren't exactly accusatory in so much as they were just objectionable in context...

    ...and in this instance was Miss Jacobson's bra stuffed with $10,000?

    Obviously not, but the person(s) in question are indubitably closer to the project now than they would prefer...let's just put it that way. LoL

     
  • Humanist posted at 8:38 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Humanist Posts: 2933

    Quote JoeIdaho: "but I FULLY disagree with the premise that you have to be able to prove a claim in order to make it, otherwise you get sued. "

    With your often times defamatory remarks towards individuals and groups here, you obviously have never given a rip about the actual validity of those claims.

    In light of this decision, you might want to re-think how wise that behavior is now. The ideal of anonymity is gone now.

     
  • JoeIdaho posted at 8:10 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    I am Conservative, and don't go to the sites that had this on them, but I FULLY disagree with the premise that you have to be able to prove a claim in order to make it, otherwise you get sued.
    The ideal of anonymity is gone now; as the Judge says so.
    Too bad for America, this is what activist (YES activist) judges do. this one os no better of different than Roberts.

     
  • milburnschmidt posted at 7:44 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    milburnschmidt Posts: 1161

    Like all things the devil is in the details but as I remember didnt the writer ask the question about the money not actually accuse her of theft. Seems a big difference if thats correct but anyway this should put some spice in future postings.

     
  • ancientemplar posted at 7:37 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1107

    There is nothing socially redeeming or entertaining about HBO. Its a gossip column or at best, the rantings of a hen party.. Why would anyone go there and give HBO the benefit of a viewer's click.

     
  • DeNiles posted at 7:09 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    HBO is less of newspaper open comment website and more agenda oriented. Certain commentary seems to be encouraged and contrary commentary discouraged and sometimes targeted. It is more of a digital domain clique IMHO. So it is not surprising to see that HBO commentary pushed the limits beyond legal.

     
  • Rationale posted at 6:58 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Rationale Posts: 1973

    Uh,

    "connected," not "affected."

     
  • Rationale posted at 6:57 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    Rationale Posts: 1973

    voxpop,

    A little slow on the uptake, are you? This isn't about right/left wing. This is about someone publicly accusing someone else of a felony...and the accusations are affected to their job.

    Tell you what, here's a scenario...first, give us your real name (Tina Jacobsen) and occupation. Then, I'll publicly assert that you are a pedophile.

    Still think I should be able to get away with it?

    Calling them a liar is one thing. Accusing them of a felony without evidence is slander/libel...depending on the mode of communication.

     
  • voxpop posted at 6:12 am on Wed, Jul 11, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    I always find political contradiction amusing. The vast Idaho right wing conspiracy laments the legal profession's left wing proclivities but runs crying to mama as soon as someone calls them a name. As in pro sports, when the athlete says it's NOT about the money, rest assured it's ALL about the money.

     
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