The latest step in the press by Cooley Law School to make public the name of the anonymous blogger the school is suing for defamation took place last week in oral argument before the Michigan Court of Appeals. Reuters Thompson has this story.
After filing the defamation case in Ingham County, Cooley subpoenaed the blogger's California-based Internet-hosting company for the blogger's identity, but before a motion to quash the subpoena was filed the company turned over the name to Cooley, which disclosed the name in a court filing. (The disclosed information has been sequestered, and the papers filed in the case naming the blogger stricken from the record, for what that's worth.) In denying the motion to quash at the hearing last year, Ingham County circuit judge Clinton Canady granted a stay of his ruling pending a ruling on a motion for leave to appeal, noting that is it an open question in Michigan whether the standard stated in a New Jersey case, Dendrite v Doe, is the governing rule. All issues relating to the case have been on hold.
Cooley is arguing that Michigan law does not require a plaintiff to prove the strength of its claims before it can carry out discovery. Doe's brief (PDF) urges the Court of Appeals to respond in Doe's favor and in the process "develop a test for the identification of anonymous speakers that makes it neither too easy for deliberate defamers to hide behind pseudonyms, nor too easy for a big company or a public figure to unmask critics simply by filing a complaint that purports to state an untested claim for relief."Oakland County's The Law Blogger "predicts [hopes] that the Michigan Court of Appeals will decide in favor of the critical blogger." Indiana Law Blog reports that a similar anonymous blogger case is taking place in Indiana -- Indiana Newspapers Inc. v. Jeffrey Miller et al, in which the Indianapolis Star appealed a trial court’s order to disclose the identity of an anonymous online commenter. A “Published Order Dismissing Appeal” was issued Dec. 7th by the Indiana Court of Appeals, dismissing the Star’s appeal but continuing a previously ordered stay of the trial court’s order for seven calendar days.