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Update in a SLAPP case

April 19, 2011

One of the cases we have been following is the Beaumont case of In Re John Does 1 and 2, a SLAPP suit aimed at revealing the identities of anonymous bloggers “Operation Kleinwatch” and “Sam the Eagle Weblog” who blog about another blogger, Philip Klein. Klein’s company (but not Klein himself) obtained a discovery order which subpoenaed from Google the identities of the anonymous bloggers. The John Does moved to squash the subpoena and the court denied the motion, ordering the identities to be revealed.

On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court granted mandamus relief to the anonymous bloggers, ruling the the trial court had abused its discretion.

Friday’s opinion is interesting in that it calls the allegations in the lawsuit “sketchy,” and notes that the plaintiff in the lawsuit was a company, not Philip Klein, yet the allegations in the lawsuit “mostly concern possible causes of action by Klein, who is not a party to the proceeding.” This is a classic description of a lawsuit with no merit, that is being used as a tool to harass speech.

If the Texas Citizen Participation Act had been in place, this case could probably have been handled through a motion to dismiss and might not have had to seek the extraordinary relief of a writ of mandamus ruling from the Texas Supreme Court.

Press Release by Operation Kleinwatch is here:

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