Wendy Davis of MediaPost reports that the blogger behind the Skanks in NYC blog has appeared through counsel to challenge model Liskula Cohen's request for discovery from Google regarding his/her identity. Two weeks ago, the anonymous blogger filed a brief arguing that Cohen should not be permitted to unmask him/her because her allegations fail to set out a valid cause of action and therefore fail to meet the heightened standard required by cases such as Dendrite International v. Doe, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. App. Div. 2001), Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005), and Ottinger v. Non-Party The Journal News, 2008 WL 4375330 (N.J. Sup. Ct. June 27, 2008).
I like how the brief tries to put this gossipy case into context:
With the increasing prevalence of email, chat rooms, social networking websites and web logs ("blogs"), the Internet has become essential to the free exchange of ideas and opinions, however absurd, insulting, profane or rhetorical. Petitioner's Application threatens this free exchange . . . Despite its seemingly petty underpinnings, this action is important and involves fundamental First Amendment rights that Petitioner seeks to destroy. If granted, Petitioner's Application would have a dangerous chilling effect upon what has become a predominant forum for free speech in modern society. . . .
Beyond that, the blogger's attorneys do a good job arguing that no reasonable reader of the blog would understand the statements referring to Cohen as a "skank," "skanky," or "acting like a ho" to be asserting or implying verifiable facts about her. Their arguments may just get me to change my earlier view of this one as "a hard call." For background on the case, see my previous posts (here, here) and our database entry, Cohen v. Google (Blogger).