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Judge Who Was Revealed As Anonymous Commenter Sues Newspaper For $50 Million

from the good-luck-there... dept

You may recall, a few weeks back, that the Cleveland Plain Dealer revealed that a regular commenter on the site was actually a local judge (who had recently threatened to jail a Plain Dealer reporter for not giving up his source on a story). While revealing the real identity of an anonymous commenter seems pretty sleazy, we did wonder about the boundaries for a news organization. If it's newsworthy who an anonymous commenter is, then at what point should a publication reveal that info? A judge making snide comments about a case she's involved with may, in fact, be newsworthy, and part of an investigative report might reveal that info. So could a newspaper claim that revealing who made the comments was newsworthy?

Well, another judge may have to make that determination... because the judge who was "outed" has now sued the newspaper for $50 million claiming breach of contract, fraud, invasion of privacy, defamation and a few other charges. You can check out the full lawsuit (pdf -- via Eric Goldman).

What's interesting is that she uses multiple comments from articles and columns written in the Plain Dealer about this debate after she was revealed. I'm not sure that's compelling. The columnists and reporters may have their own opinions separate from that of the newspaper itself. However, the defamation claims may have a bit more heft to them, as she claims that many of the statements made by the Plain Dealer were false and not verified. Still, $50 million seems extreme no matter how you look at it.

Filed Under: anonymity, cleveland, judge
Companies: plain dealer


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  1. identicon
    sticks n stones, 8 Apr 2010 @ 8:32pm

    if your anonymous

    things should work both ways
    A) you can get those mouthy buggers
    B) you get civil ones

    C) you get mouthy people on you
    D) you get civil comments about you.

    BUT even if your outed later you did this as anonymous it was your choice and whats a judge involved in ANY case going to a site mouthing anyhting off in first place. THAT'S why this happened.

    SHE made seriously bad judgment regardless of what she said and if was anonymous HOW can people know anyhting prior to being outed? Before that point your just anyone so who cares what anyone says. THEY DON'T KNOW YOU and can't afterwards is entirely different. AND thinking cause i'm a judge i can get 50million

    then what she gets i got some anonymous jerks to take care of too.

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