Challenge to Subpoena of Blogger, Garrett v. Better Publications, Inc.

Local author and self-described Hollywood publicist Thomas Garrett filed suit against the publishers of The Hook, a Charlottesville alternative weekly, claiming that he was defamed by several articles published in the paper. When blogger Waldo Jaquith learned of the lawsuit, he posted an article about it on his website, cvillenews.com. Commenters, most of whom were anonymous, posted 81 comments about the article, ranging from very critical of Garrett to supportive. Garrett then subpoenaed Jaquith, seeking identifying information for anyone who posted comments about or even looked at Jaquith's blog entry, as well as any other documents in Jaquith's possession related to the lawsuit. Jaquith filed a pro se motion to quash the subpoena, and Garrett filed a motion to compel, arguing that Waldo's documents were protected by the reporter's privilege, and that revealing the commenters' identities would violate the First Amendment right to speak anonymously.

In May 2009, Garrett withdrew his lawsuit against The Hook. Jaquith will not have to give up his notes or the names of individuals who posted comments about the defamation lawsuit on his website.

Court Documents:
Circuit Court of Buckingham County- Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Compel (pdf)

Attorney(s)

Rebecca K. Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia; Josh Wheeler, Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

Date filed

March 5, 2009

Court

Buckingham County Circuit Court

Status

Closed

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