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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Texas School Blog Sued by District

Thanks to Dorothy for passing along this item about a woman in Texas with an education blog who is getting sued by her district for saying bad things about administrators. To whit:

"The postings accuse Superintendent Lynne Cleveland, trustees and administrators of lying, manipulation, falsifying budget numbers, using their positions for “personal gain,” violating the Open Meetings Act and spying on employees, among other things.

Tetley (the blogger) said the postings were opinions only."

What's interesting is who they are threatening to sue:

"Feldman (the district's lawyer) cited 16 examples of what he says are libelous postings. Half were posted by Tetley; the other half were posted by anonymous users."

I'm assuming he'd have to
get a subpoena for who the anonymous posters were in order to sue them . From what people here have said about their wish to remain anonymous, well, there's anonymous and there's the force of a subpoena.

It clearly depends on how she stated her opinions but I'm amused that this district seems to forget we have a First Amendment.

On a more serious note, just yesterday the CEO of Yahoo got raked over the coals in a Congressional committee meeting because Yahoo gave the Chinese government the names of two users who were sending anonymous e-mails about the actions of the Chinese government. Both those users have been jailed for 10+ years. The CEO apologized profusely but said Yahoo had to obey a country's laws. (Well, either that or how about not doing business with them? Oh wait, that's a billion people; cha ching!)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

What are these people being sued for? Slander, perhaps?

If a court found the posts to be slanderous, then it is actionable, and so your first right amendment would not apply.

As for a subpoena, they can only be sought if you have broken a law, in this case, I'm assuming it is slander. So, anonymous posters of this blog, do not be intimidated by Melissa trying once again to sway you not to post anonymously. It is your right , though slander is not.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, quick legal definitions:

slander is a verbal lie
libel is a written lie

This is in the excerpts I posted.

I'm no lawyer but I believe it's all in the phrasing. If the person blogged "My opinion is they lied about XYZ." , the first amendment does apply. If the person blogs, "They lie all the time about XYZ.", it's possible libel.

I posted this because I found it funny and somewhat ironic given the threads about posting anonymously. I just thought it would lighten things up.

Anonymous said...

So Melissa, on pain of being sued, perhaps you shouldn't refer to Olchefske as Satan anymore?

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, no, not Satan - it was Voldomort.

Anonymous said...

Melissa you have avoided a lawsuit from Satan.

Voldomort will soon be bringing legal action against you.