Showing posts with label amicus curiae. Show all posts
Showing posts with label amicus curiae. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Follow-up: Fisher v. Doe

In December I wrote that Tom Haren and I had filed an amicus brief in the Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of our client Alexandria Goddard. We asked the Court, in Fisher v. Doe, to adopt the Dendrite International standard for cases in which a subpoena seeks to unmask anonymous internet speech.

Today the Court declined to accept the case by a 4-2 margin. Justices French and O'Neill dissented. Justice Fischer, who was on the First District panel that decided the case in October, did not participate.

We are disappointed, obviously. The First Amendment's protection extends as equally to anonymous and pseudonymous speech as it does to speech from identified sources, and this is no less true for online speech than it is for speech in newspapers, pamphlets, or any other media. We will continue to keep our eyes open for candidates to place the Dendrite issue before the Ohio Supreme Court and courts of appeals. If you are aware of any, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Brief filed: Fisher v. Doe

In October I criticized the First District's decision in Fisher v. Doe because it declined to adopt and apply the Dendrite test, which provides rules for when an anonymous speaker can be unmasked. Doe has appealed the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, and today Tom Haren and I filed an amicus brief in support of jurisdiction, on behalf of our client Alexandria Goddard. Alex was the blogger who earned fame (or, perhaps, notoriety) in 2012 for investigating and blogging the social media posts made by students attending a party at which two Steubenville High School football players raped a teenaged girl.

Our brief can be read here. In it Tom and I urge the Court to recognize that both the Ohio and US Constitutions protect the rights to speak anonymously and remain anonymous, and that the Dendrite test is best suited to protecting those constitutional rights, while still allowing for meritorious claims to proceed. Most importantly, Dendrite requires plaintiffs to make a showing of merit before unmasking the anonymous speaker. Any rule that allows unmasking before a demonstration of the existence of a meritorious claim improperly prioritizes a common law claim (defamation) over a constitutional right (anonymity).

The plaintiff's response to the jurisdictional briefs is due in January.

Update: the Court has declined jurisdiction in the case.