Subpoenas

Revised DOJ Regs Protect "Members of the News Media," But What Does That Mean?

On February 21, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice released its long-awaited revisions to 28 C.F.R. § 50.10, the DOJ's regulatory guidelines (the "Guidelines") regarding investigations and prosecutions of members of the news media.

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Justice Dept.'s Media Investigation Policy Falls Flat Compared to Other Protections Against Press Intrusion

As has been widely reported, the U.S. Department of Justice has disclosed that it has obtained two months' worth of telephone records from 20 separate phone lines assigned to the journalists and offices of the Associated Press.

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Jurisdiction: 

New York County v. Twitter, Inc. (subpoena)

Date: 

01/26/2012

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Twitter, Inc., Malcolm Harris (user account @destructuremal)

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual
Large Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Criminal Court of the City of New York

Case Number: 

2011NY080152

Legal Counsel: 

Jeffrey D. Vanacore, John K. Roche (for Twitter); Martin R. Stolar (for Harris)

Publication Medium: 

Micro-blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

Malcolm Harris is one of hundreds of protesters charged with disorderly conduct after the Occupy Wall Street protest march across the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011. In the course of this investigation, on January 26, 2012, the New York County District Attorney issued a subpoena to Twitter to appear as a witness in Harris's trial in the Criminal Court of the City of New York, presenting "any and all information" regarding Harris's account @destructuremal from September 15 to December 31, 2011. Twitter notified Harris of the subpoena on January 30, 2012.

Harris reponded to this subpoena by filing a motion to quash on February 6, 2012. In this motion, Harris argued that the subpoena was overbroad and failed to comply with federal and state procedural requirements for electronic information requests.

On April 20, 2012, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino Jr. denied Harris's motion. Judge Sciarrino held that Harris lacked a proprietary interest in his tweets, so as in bank record cases where an individual lacks standing to challenge a subpoena issued against the third-party bank, Harris lacked standing to quash a subpoena issued to a third-party online social networking service seeking to obtain his postings. In addition, Judge Sciarrino found that were "reasonable grounds to believe the information sought was relevant and material to this investigation" under the Stored Communications Act.

On May 7, 2012, Twitter filed its own motion to quash Judge Sciarrino's order and the subpoena. In this motion, Twitter argued that the order would violate Twitter's terms of service provisions, which state that users retain rights to any content posted on the site, thereby holding a proprietary interest in their content. In addition, citing the Supreme Court's 2012 decision in United States v. Jones, Twitter argued that enforcing the subpoena would violate the Fourth Amendment, which only requires service providers to disclose user communications when presented with a valid search warrant. 

Twitter's motion to quash was denied by Judge Sciarrino on June 30, 2012. In addition to reasserting holdings from his April 20th order, Judge Sciarrino's held that there is no expectation of privacy when participating in a social media forum like Twitter, so no Fourth Amendment privacy interest would be implicated by the subpoena. Twitter intends to appeal this decision, having filed a notice of appeal on July 17, 2012.

Update:

On August 20, 2012, Harris filed a petition and memorandum under Article 78 of the CPLR to order Judge Sciarrino to reverse the order to reveal the information stored by Twitter. According to the case docket, Harris also seeks a temporary restraining order preventing the disclosure of the information, with a hearing date of September 21, 2012.

According to a subsequent pleading by Twitter, on August 20, 2012, the court asked Twitter to show cause as to why the court should not impose civil and criminal sanctions for contempt of court, in light of Twitter's lack of disclosure of the information at issue. That order had a response deadline of September 5, but on August 23 Twitter moved for a stay of all Criminal Court proceedings pending resolution of their appeal. The Appellate Term granted a temporary stay, but then vacated that stay in an order on September 7, 2012.

Meanwhile, on August 27, 2012, Twitter filed their appellate brief before the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court for New York County. The ACLU, NYCLU, EFF, and Public Citizen filed an amicus brief in support of Twitter.

On September 11, 2012, Twitter filed a memorandum in opposition to the order to show cause before the Criminal Court of the City of New York. Twitter argued that being forced to reveal the information before the appeal of the order would render the issue moot, and thus would prevent proper adjudication of the validity of the order.

According to Bloomberg, on a hearing on September 11, 2012, Judge Sciarrino rejected Twitter's arguments and ordered Twitter to comply or face substantial monetary fines.

According to the Washington Post and Village Voice, Twitter and Judge Sciarrino reached an agreement whereby Twitter turned over the contents requested on September 14, 2012 in a sealed envelope, and the Judge agreed not to open the contents until the hearing on Harris's Article 78 petition before the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court for New York County on September 21, 2012.

On September 27, 2012,  the Supreme Court for New York County's Appellate Term issued an order denying Harris's application to stay enforcement in his Article 78 proceeding. According to the New York Times, the subpoena was subsequently enforced, and Harris pleaded guilty to the charges.

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CMLP Notes: 

AS: added material 9/21/2012

AS: added material to close out matter on May 7, 2013

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Suffolk County District Attorney's Office v. Twitter, Inc. (subpoena)

Date: 

12/14/2011

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Twitter, Inc., and anonymous users/accounts/hashtags "Guido Fawkes," "@p0isAn0N," "@OccupyBoston," "#BostonPD" and "#d0xcak3."

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Suffolk County Superior Court

Case Number: 

SUCR2011-11308

Legal Counsel: 

Peter Krupp (for "@p0isAn0N")

Publication Medium: 

Micro-blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

On December 14, 2011, as part of a criminal investigation conducted by the District Attorney of Suffolk County and the Boston Police Department, the District Attorney issued an administrative subpoena under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 271, Section 17B and 18 U.S.C. Section 2703, demanding that Twitter provide subscriber information regarding accounts "Guido Fawkes," "@p0isAn0N," "@OccupyBoston," and the hashtags "#BostonPD" and "#d0xcak3." Despite the District Attorney's request for secrecy, Twitter forwarded the subpoena to the relevant users in accordance with its notification policy with regards to law enforcement.

According to a statement by the ACLU of Massachusetts, the ACLU moved to have the subpoena quashed on First Amendment grounds. Superior Court Judge Carol Ball held a closed hearing on December 29, 2011, and then ordered that the record of the proceedings and all documents filed by the parties be impounded by the court.

On January 9, 2012, the ACLU of Massachusetts contested Judge Ball's order by filing a motion for reconsideration of the decision to seal all documents involving the motion to quash. This motion was not successful.

On February 23, 2012, Superior Court Judge Frances A. McIntyre issued an ex parte order to show cause to Twitter regarding the administrative subpoena, ordering Twitter to appear in Suffolk Superior Court on February 27, 2012. After this hearing on February 27, 2012, Judge McIntyre ordered Twitter to comply with the Suffolk District Attorney Office's subpoena as amended by February 28, 2012. At that time, Judge McIntyre also removed the seal from three pages worth of documents, consisting of the ex parte order to show cause and the amended administrative subpoena. According to news sources, Twitter has complied.

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Art of Living Foundation v. Does 1-10

Date: 

11/05/2010

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John or Jane Doe ("Skywalker"), John or Jane Doe ("Klim")

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

Case Number: 

10–CV–05022–LHK

Legal Counsel: 

Joshua Koltun

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)
Settled (partial)

Description: 

Substantive Proceedings

The Art of Living Foundation is an international nonprofit organization that, according to its website, is "engaged in stress-management and service initiatives." Two former followers, Skywalker and Klim, published anonymous blogs (entitled "Leaving the Art of Living" and "Beyond the Art of Living") criticizing the Art of Living's practices and their leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. In addition to their critiques, they also provide excerpts from the Art of Living's teaching manuals and other materials (normally provided to members in courses for a fee).

On August 14, 2010, Skywalker and Klim received a demand from Art of Living (from its headquarters in India) to take down this material. The branch of Art of Living in the United States (based in California) also filed a complaint on November 5, 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Art of Living alleged copyright infringement under federal law for the blogs' publication of portions of the "Breath Water Sound Manual." In addition, Art of Living alleged misappropriation of trade secrets, defamation, and trade libel under California law, based on the aforementioned publication and the Does' critical statements about the organization.

On January 31, 2011, the Does filed a motion to dismiss the defamation and trade libel claims for failure to state a claim. They also filed a special motion to strike the defamation, trade libel, and trade secrets claims under California's anti-SLAPP statute. Art of Living filed both an opposition to the motion to dismiss and an opposition to the motion to strike on March 17, 2011, to which the Does replied (reply re: motion to dismiss; reply re: motion to strike) on April 6, 2011. After a hearing in May, on June 15, 2011, U.S. District Judge Koh dismissed the defamation and trade libel claims and denied (without prejudice) the motion to strike. Judge Koh found that the statements at issue were opinions rather than assertions of fact, resolving the defamation claim, and that Art of Living did not sufficiently allege harm or damages for the trade libel claim. Judge Koh also held that discovery on the trade secrets claim could not proceed until Art of Living identified the trade secrets with reasonable particularity.

On July 14, 2011, Art of Living proceeded to amend their complaint in accordance with the June 15th order, removing the dismissed claims from their complaint. Art of Living also provided further detail and content identification in regards to the remaining copyright infringement and trade secrets claims. The Does answered the amended complaint on July 28, 2011.

The Does then filed a second special motion to strike on September 12, 2011 (with the redacted version entering the docket on January 9, 2012), this time directed at the remaining trade secret claim. This motion was opposed by Art of Living on September 29, 2011. Additionally, on September 27, 2011, the Does filed a motion for summary judgment on the copyright infringement claims. Art of Living filed an opposition to this motion on October 11, 2011, which the Does replied to on October 24, 2011. 

In an order on May 1, 2012, Judge Koh granted summary judgment on the copyright infringement claim. Judge Koh found that Klim was entitled to summary judgment based on noninfringement, and that Art of Living did not provide enough support for its claim of authorship of the manual to pursue a copyright infringement claim against Skywalker because the copyright registration certificate was obtained after the litigation began). The district court also granted Klim's motion to strike the trade secrets misappropriation claim while denying the motion to strike in regards to Skywalker. While Skywalker conceded that there was at least some overlap between his blog postings and the materials Art of Living designated as trade secrets, Art of Living presented no evidence that Klim misappropriated any of these materials.

Anonymity in Art of Living v. Does

Throughout the proceedings described above, there was an ongoing issue with respect to the defendants' ability to proceed anonymously.

On November 9, 2010, Art of Living filed a motion for leave to take expedited discovery. Pursuant to an ex parte order by Magistrate Judge Beeler, on December 20, 2010, Art of Living subpoenaed Google and Wordpress to reveal the identities of bloggers Skywalker and Klim. Not long after being notified of this by Google, the Does filed a motion to quash the subpoena. In response, Art of Living filed an opposition on March 22, 2011, and the Does replied on April 28, 2011. On August 10, 2011, Magistrate Judge Lloyd denied the motion to quash in regards to Skywalker's claim while granting it for Klim, finding that the copyright claim was a sufficient basis for permitting identification of Skywalker.

In response, on August 24, 2011, Skywalker filed a motion for relief from the order of the Magistrate Judge regarding the motion to quash. On August 31, 2011, Public Citizen, joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU, submitted an amicus brief. This brief urged the court to apply the balancing test adopted in Dendrite Int'l v. Does, despite the copyright claim being considered in the case. Art of Living's opposition to the motion for relief was filed on September 16, 2011, and Skywalker replied on September 30, 2011.

On November 9, 2011, Judge Koh granted the motion, finding that Skywalker's First Amendment right to anonymous speech outweighed Art of Living's need for discovery at this time. Judge Koh applied the Highfields Capital two-part test (which relied heavily on Dendrite) for determining whether to allow discovery seeking the identity of an anonymous defendant: "(1) The plaintiff must produce competent evidence supporting a finding of each fact that is essential to a given cause of action; and (2) if the plaintiff makes a sufficient evidentiary showing, the court must compare the magnitude of the harms that would be caused to the competing interests by a ruling in favor of the plaintiff and by a ruling in favor of the defendant."

In a case management conference and corresponding minute order on May 9, 2012, Judge Koh again denied all of Art of Living's motions to disclose Skywalker's identity. By also refusing to extend discovery a setting the trial date and length, these rulings potentially allowed Skywalker to defend at trial anonymously.

Related Case and Settlement

On June 8, 2012, Judge Koh granted Art of Living's motion to relate Art of Living Foundation v. Eng-An Chou (Docket no. 5:12-CV-02748-LHK) to this case. Chou involves Art of Living's claim that Eng-An Chou breached her contracts with Art of Living by disclosing some of the organization's confidential texts to Skywalker for posting on his blog.

The next week, the cases were referred to Judge Joseph C. Spero for a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference. The conference was held on June 12, 2012 and a settlement was reportedly reached. As part of the settlement agreement, Skywalker and Klim published a joint statement informing readers of the settlement and would proceed to freeze their blogs on June 19, 2012. The joint statement noted that there are no restrictions on the Does to create new blogs, and that no identity had or would be disclosed in relation to this litigation and settlement. Art of Living also agreed to drop the lawsuit with prejudice (also dropping the separate suit against Chou) and to pay Skywalker and Klim's attorney's fees.

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Brown v. Doe

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

03/27/2012

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John or Jane Doe

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Clark County District Court, Nevada

Case Number: 

A-12-658911-C

Legal Counsel: 

Tony L. Abbatangelo

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On March 27, 2012, Mary and Phil Brown filed suit in Nevada state court against an annonymous online commenter. According to news reports, a commenter on the Las Vegas Review-Journal's website posted allegedly defamatory statements about the plaintiffs' romantic history. The Browns instituted the defamation action and subpoenaed the Review-Journal for the commenter's identity.

On April 6, Doe, through an attorney, filed a motion to quash the subpoena. Doe argues that the court should apply the Dendrite test to determine whether Doe's identity should be revealed. According to the motion to quash, the Browns failed to meet the first three prongs of the Dendrite test by failing: (1) to make reasonable attempts to contact Doe; (2) to allege the specific defamatory statements at issue; and (3) to allege a prima facie case that could withstand summary judgment by failing to demonstrate that the comments were made negligently. In arguing that Doe's contested post was not written negligently, Doe alleges that the post was written based on information from individuals with knowledge of the Browns' relationship history. Finally, under the fourth Dendrite prong—a balancing test between the parties' rights—Doe argued that the Browns had suffered little if any harm from the comment, and that the Review-Journal's comment sections were so filled with "nonsensical comments" that no reader would take them seriously. 

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CMLP Notes: 

4/20/12: JS creating

Jurisdiction: 

Façonnable USA Corp. v. John Does 1-10

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

04/07/2011

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John Doe Wikipedia Editors & ISP Skybeam, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court, District of Colorado

Case Number: 

1:11-cv-00941-CMA -BNB

Legal Counsel: 

Paul Alan Levy & Michael H. Page of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, and John Seiver of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (for Skybeam)

Publication Medium: 

Wiki

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Settled (total)
Withdrawn

Description: 

On April 7, 2011, clothing company Façonnable filed suit in Colorado federal court against a set of John Doe defendants.  According to the complaint, around March 1, 2011, one or more anonymous individuals edited the Wikipedia entries of Façonnable and its parent company M1 Group. The edits discussed "purported" ties between M1 and Hezbollah. (A preserved copy of the Façonnable page is included among the court documents.) The complaint alleges trade libel, violations of Colorado's Consumer Protection Act (for false representations of Façonnable's goods/activities), and federal Lanham Act violations--specifically, that the Wikipedia editors falsely described Façonnable's goods/activities, constituting "acts of infringement."

Façonnable also alleges that the IP addresses of the anonymous Wikipedia editor(s) are associated with Colorado ISP Skybeam, Inc. and that on March 4, 2011, Façonnable emailed (scroll down) Skybeam requesting the identities of the anonymous editors. Skybeam declined to provide the information without a proper summons.  In response, simultaneously with the filing of the complaint, Façonnable moved for expedited discovery to subpoena Skybeam for the editors' identities.

On April 8, 2011, the case was referred to a magistrate judge, and on April 18, the magistrate granted Façonnable's motion for expedited discovery. A few days prior, Façonnable had contacted Skybeam to request that the Wikipedia editors' identifying information be preserved. Once its motion was granted, Façonnable subpoenaed Skybeam for that information; Skybeam then responded with a letter objecting to the subpoena. On April 29 Skybeam moved for a modification of the discovery order, arguing that the magistrate judge applied too lenient a standard in granting discovery by failing to account for the editors' First Amendment anonymous speech rights. Façonnable opposed the motion.

On May 24 the magistrate judge denied Skybeam's motion. Expressing concern that Façonnable would have "no ability to vindicate its rights," the magistrate held that the subpoena was a "content neutral" oversight of online speech, and thus the subpoena satisfied a "heightened sensitivity" to the editors' First Amendment rights. The magistrate ordered Skybeam to comply with the subpoena by June 3.

On June 1, Skybeam filed objections to the magistrate's decision with the district court, and moved to stay the order to comply with the subpoena. On June 2, the district court judge granted the stay. Skybeam's memo accompanying its objection expands on the First Amendment concerns in the case (and the need for strict scrutiny in deciding whether or not to enforce the subpoena), discusses the viability of Façonnable's federal Lanham Act claims, and argues for a more stringent five-step test before revealing anonymous speakers' identities.

On June 27, Façonnable filed an unopposed motion for an extension to reply to Skybeam's objections.

Update:

On July 18th, Façonnable filed a notice of voluntary dismissal with prejudice. According to news reports and subsequent court documents, the company reached a settlement with the John Doe defendant.

On July 22, Skybeam moved to vacate the magistrate judge's order to reveal the Doe identities. Skybeam argued that, although the apparent settlement had mooted the question of the propriety of the magistrate's order, Skybeam was entitled to have the order vacated to avoid setting precedent. Skybeam's motion includes some information about the possible terms of the settlement, stating that on July 11, Façonnable offered to dismiss the case, if the John Doe's attorney "would make certain representations on behalf of the Doe . . . including that Doe was not one of the plaintiff's competitors." (The actual settlement terms have not been made public.)

On July 27, the District Court Judge granted Skybeam's motion to vacate, which was unopposed.

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Threat Source: 

Blog Post

Subject Area: 

Appeals Court to Filmmaker: Turn Over Your Footage to Chevron

A federal appellate court has issued a swift ruling, in a high profile reporter's privilege case, that requires a filmmaker to surrender some of his unpublished footage to a powerful oil company.

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Court Battle for Filmmaker's Footage Spurs National Debate on Reporter's Privilege

A filmmaker's fight against an oil company seeking his raw documentary footage has spurred a national debate on the reporter's privilege, pitting media organizations and filmmakers against powerful corporations and criminal defense attorneys.  At stake is the breadth of the protection given to unpublished newsgathering materials and, ultimately, the basic trust between journalists and their sources.

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Jurisdiction: 

Major League Baseball v. Charter Communications Inc.

Date: 

06/03/2010

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Charter Communications Inc.

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County

Case Number: 

107256/2010

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On June 3, 2010, Major League Baseball filed a petition for a court order requiring Internet service provider Charter Communications Inc. to disclose the names of users who posted "pornographic," and "indecent" material on MLB.com forums, Reuters reports.

Major Legaue Baseball traced the IP addresses of the offensive posters to Charter Communications and seeks the names of the posters so that it can pursue "appropriate action" against them. MLB.com has tried and failed several times to ban the "obscene" posts, many of which involve threats of unwanted sexual acts against other forum users, and images of genitalia, according to Reuters

 

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Subject Area: 

Threat Source: 

Court Filings

CMLP Notes: 

6/9/10 9.42am: I could not track down the petition for the court order so I relied heavily on the Reuters article. MH

Jurisdiction: 

Illinois Court Requires Newspaper Website To Identify Pseudonymous Commenter

A mid-level appellate court in Illinois ruled on Tuesday that the publisher of a local newspaper must reveal the identity of a pseudonymous Internet commenter.  In Maxon v. Ottawa Publishing Co., 3-08-0805 (Ill. App. Ct.

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Search Warrants in the Sky: FBI Collects Info from Google Docs

If you spend any time at all online, you've probably seen—and, depending on the effectiveness of your spam filters, received in your email—ads extolling the supposed virtues of acai berry, a so-called "super food" that has been a big seller for the past couple of years.

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Kansas Shield Law Awaits Governor’s Signature: Ripe Fruit From a Bewildering Tree

In an overwhelming vote of support, the Kansas Legislature Tuesday passed a media shield bill that, if signed by Governor Mark Parkinson (D), will protect reporters in most circumstances from having to disclose the identity of anonymous sources and other information obtained in the newsgathering process.

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Jurisdiction: 

TSA v Chris Elliott and Steve Frischling

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Date: 

12/29/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Chris Elliott; Steve Frischling

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Legal Counsel: 

Anthony N. Elia - The Law Office of Anthony N. Elia (for Elliott); Electronic Frontier Foundation (for Elliott); Mark Holsher, Francis DiScala, Jr.

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

On December 29, 2009, agents of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) interrogated and served subpoenas on two travel bloggers who had posted a TSA security directive put in place after the failed Christmas day "underwear bomber" attempt. The two bloggers, Steven Frischling and Chris Elliott, posted the text of the directive on December 27 after confusion arose over air travel procedures and restrictions in the wake of the failed terrorist attack.

Frischling, a freelance travel writer and photographer who publishes a blog for KLM Airlines and Flying With Fish, complied with the subpoena, in part because he did not know the identity of the source, there is no federal shield law to protect him, and he felt that he could lessen the ordeal by cooperating. According to Wired, agents went through his phone contacts and determined it was necessary to take an image of his hard drive. In the process of trying to copy files, agents damaged Frischling’s laptop. With Frischling’s permission, they seized the computer, departed, and later returned it.

Elliott, who publishes the blog Elliott and writes a column for the Washington Post and MSNBC, refused to divulge his source and retained counsel. The TSA then backed off and ultimately withdrew the subpoena on December 31.

That same day, the TSA notified Frischling that it was withdrawing the subpoena.  It is not clear whether the agency will compensate Frischling for damaging his laptop. 

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Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Is There a Mini Constitution in Sky Mall? How the TSA Forgets Citizens' Rights

In recent years, the American public seems to have fallen under the impression that providers and regulators of airline travel have extra-legal powers. These fictional powers typically mean that passengers can be treated like cattle.

Subject Area: 

Florida v. RateMyCop.com

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Date: 

05/01/2008

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

RateMyCop.com

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

State

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

The Tallahassee Police Department subpoenaed records from RateMyCop.com after an anonymous user posted the name, address, and telephone number of a Tallahassee police officer on the site, according to Wired. When the authorities obtained identifying information for the poster, they arrested and charged Robert Brayshaw with a violation of Fla. Stat. § 843.17. Section 843.17 prohibits publication of a law enforcement officer's residential address or telephone number with the intent to intimidate, hinder, or interrupt any law enforcement officer in the legal performance of his or her duties.

A state court judge ultimately dismissed the charges against Brayshaw with prejudice for failure to comply with Florida's speedy trial requirements. Brayshaw then filed a complaint in federal court in Florida, seeking a declaration that Section 843.17 violates the First Amendment. 

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

EK - editing [10/23/2009] (also related entry State of Florida v. Brayshaw: http://www.citmedialaw.org/threats/state-florida-v-brayshaw)

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

New York v. Burgoyne

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Date: 

01/01/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Cindy Burgoyne

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of the State of New York, Orange County

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Convicted
Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

Cindy Burgoyne pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after posting confidential information about grand jury proceedings on discussion forum on the Times Herald-Record's website, using the pseudonym "Nancy Drew." Burgoyne had served on the grand jury investigating the death of a suspect in police custody. Her July 2008 posting on the newspaper's website came months after her service ended, according to the Times Herald-Record.

The Orange County District Attorney's office subpoenaed the Times Herald-Record to obtain information about Burgoyne's identity. After pleading guilty, she paid a small fine.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Pages

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