In response to my Motion to Quash, the complainant’s attorney sent back a Motion to Compel yesterday, which is basically their response to my arguments as to why I shouldn’t have to comply with the subpoena. There are two bits about the Motion to Compel that are noteworthy.
The first is the claim that bloggers are not and cannot be journalists, and as such receive zero privileges under the law. This should be frightening to those of us who run community news blogs or political blogs, and perhaps doubly so to those who work with bloggers as they would journalists. I routinely communicate with sources for stories to whom I assure anonymity. My opposition argues that that veil can be pierced for the most slight of reasons. That’s a disturbing proposition.
The second is the attack on me for the comments that have been posted to cvillenews.com. Garrett complains that the comments are “tawdry, sophomoric, and spiteful.” The enormous irony is here is that the comments that fit that description were posted by Garrett himself (or, at least, somebody who says that he’s Garrett and demonstrates an extraordinary amount of knowledge about the man), all of which were pretty nasty attacks on me, libelously accusing me of committing criminal acts. And in an effort to claim that I have contempt for the legal process (as a reader of my blog, you understand that precisely the opposite is true), Garrett’s attorney cites a comment left by James Young, in which he recites a joke about judges told to him by a judge. (James, as you may know, is an attorney who recently argued a case before the Supreme Court.) Of course, I disagreed with everything that Garrett wrote, and I generally disagree with just about everything that James writes on my blog (and his). But their comments stood, because I believe that’s necessary in a healthy democracy. It’s enormously chilling to claim that bloggers are implicitly in agreement with the comments left on their blog by third parties and, worse still, hold them liable for that agreement.
The next step is a court date. That will take place sometime in the first week of March. I assume that both sides will get up before the judge and argue over the merits of each of our claims. Having never done such a thing, it appears that I’ll be a bit busy for the next few weeks, studying for my oral exams, as it were. I’ve approached a pair of Virginia legal groups who specialize in free speech cases, to ask if they would provide me with counsel for the occasion. We’ll see if either have the resources.