Neighborhood Association Members' Right to Free Speech and Anonymous Speech, Broadstone Security, LLC v. John Doe, et al.
The ACLU of Virginia filed a motion to quash on behalf of non-party, Lyon Park Citizens’ Association, an unincorporated association representing the community of Lyon Park and the neighbors who live there. A gun shop owner filed suit against individuals who had posted messages on social media and otherwise spoke out against the gun shop being located in their neighborhood as well as legislators who sent a letter to the gun shop owner’s landlord urging her to reconsider her decision to grant a least to the business.
Plaintiff subpoenaed the names of the members of the Lyon Park Citizens’ Association. Along with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, we filed a motion to quash the subpoena duces tecum because the subpoena violates the Association’s members’ First Amendment right to freedom of association and freedom to have anonymous speech. We argued that the Association did not have to comply with the subpoena and, therefore, did not have to disclose the names of its members to Plaintiff.
We filed our motion to quash on June 22, 2016. At the September 9, 2016 hearing, the court determined that the matter should be heard in Arlington, where the gun shop and the majority of the defendants in the case are located) rather than Richmond (where the case was filed). Soon after the matter was transferred to Arlington, the plaintiff non-suited – ending the case without making a determination on the basis of law or fact, but with an opportunity for Plaintiff to re-file the case if it so chooses.