Illinois v. The Alton Telegraph

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Date: 

09/18/2008

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

Illinois

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced
Subpoena Quashed

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
An Illinois grand jury subpoenaed The Alton Telegraph newspaper in September 2008, seeking the  names, addresses and IP addresses of readers who posted comments to TheTelegraph website under five pseudonyms. The subpoena required that the newspaper's keeper of records appear... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

The Alton Telegraph

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Media Company

Location of Party: 

  • Illinois

Location of Party: 

  • Illinois

Legal Counsel: 

Thomas Scott Stewart, Noel L. Smith - Hepler, Broom, MacDonald, Hebrank, True & Noce, LLC; The Bussian Law Firm, PLLC
Description

An Illinois grand jury subpoenaed The Alton Telegraph newspaper in September 2008, seeking the  names, addresses and IP addresses of readers who posted comments to TheTelegraph website under five pseudonyms. The subpoena required that the newspaper's keeper of records appear before the grand jury with the requested records on October 2, 2008. 

According to one press account, the state's attorney seeks this information in connection with a murder investigation that does not involve The Alton Telegraph.  The state believes that one of the anonymous commenters has information about past criminal activity on the part of the subject of the investigation.

The newspaper moved to quash the subpoena, arguing that the Illinois reporter's shield law protects the identities of the anonymous commenters as "sources."  It also moved to postpone the return date of the subpoena, apparently successfully.  As of October 17, 2008, the court had not ruled on the Alton Telegraph's challenge.

Update:

5/15/09 - According to Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, the court ruled that the Alton Telegraph must turn over the identities of two of the posters.  As to the other three posters, the court ruled that the paper need not disclose their identities because what they had written was irrelevant to the investigation.

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Website

Subject Area: 

  • Shield Laws
  • Anonymity
  • User Comments or Submissions
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • Illinois

Source of Law: 

  • Illinois

Court Name: 

Circuit Court for the Third Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Illinois

Court Type: 

State

Case Number: 

08-MR-548

Relevant Documents: