Thursday, February 02, 2012

Anonymous blogging is First Amendment protected speech -- as we knew all along

You may recall the case of the blogger/PI who sued two bloggers in Beaumont because they made fun of him, sucking Google (as blogger.com) and others into his vindictive legal wrath.

He lost at the Texas Supreme Court, and now he has lost again. First, from the Southeast Texas Record:

On Monday a local judge denied Philip Klein's petition to take the depositions of Google and Beaumont attorney Brent Coon, effectively ending the political commentator's three-year crusade to unmask two area bloggers.

Through his companies, Klein filed the petition against the Operation Kleinwatch and Sam the Eagle blogs, as well as Google and its subsidiary, blogger.com, on Aug. 26, 2009, in Jefferson County District Court.

Klein alleged Operation Kleinwatch and Sam the Eagle engaged in a pattern of libel and defamation, invasion of privacy and use of copyrighted images.

In his petitions, Klein claimed the bloggers defamed him by posting a parody of Dog Fancy magazine in which he was depicted under the caption, "Fat Men Who Love Their Dogs Too Much."

Nonetheless, on Jan. 30 Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, denied Klein's verified third amended petition, ending his efforts to investigate claims.

"This ruling reaffirms the important principle that disgruntled public figures may not abuse pre-suit discovery to ferret out personal information about the people who criticize them," said Jeffrey L. Dorrell, a Houston attorney who defended the bloggers, in a press release.

And from said press release:

Ending almost three years of litigation, Judge Donald Floyd of the 172nd District Court in Jefferson County on January 30, 2012, entered a final order denying Beaumont private investigator and local media personality Philip R. Klein’s request to take presuit depositions of Internet search giant Google, prominent local attorney Brent Coon, and others to discover the identity of two anonymous bloggers. The bloggers publish satirical parody and other biting criticism directed at Klein on blogs known as “Operation Kleinwatch” and “Sam The Eagle.”

Here's the response from OK:

After repeated attempts by our attorneys and much foot-dragging by Philip R. Klein and his attorney, John S. Morton, Esq., an evidentiary hearing was held on Jan. 17, in which PRK introduced NO evidence to support his claims that we invaded his privacy, stole his copyrighted work, inflicted emotional duress on him and his family, or defamed him.

We did, however, admit that we posted a parody of a dog magazine with Philip on the front cover - the title of the article: "Fat Men Who Love Their Dogs Too Much," as a parody of this piece from MSNBC. Draw your own conclusions, but according to Philip's arguments, he apparently believes we exposed his penchant for dating farm animals.



Here's the response from Sam The Eagle:

On January 30, 2012, over two and a half years since Sillip instigated his Philly lawsuit, Judge Donald Floyd struck down all of Philip's allegations, denied all of Philip Klein's requests, and confirmed that Philip Klein was the biggest blowhard liar in Southeast Texas.

Klein's blog is the Southeast Texas Political Review, a badly written, poorly sourced ultraconservative freak show covering the Golden Triangle. Klein is also a private investigator, which means he knows lots of crooked attorneys who pay him for various shovelfuls of dirt he is able to unearth.

I would post his response to his losing his case yet again, but it's already been removed.

Philip Klein, quite simply, is a moron. To be both candid and a little cruel, he's just another one of those conservatives of low intelligence you may have read about recently. And there are plenty of lawyers -- even in places like Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange -- willing to take his money to watch him demonstrate it.

The importance of this case (to those of us who blog) as precedent really can't be overstated. I do not blog anonymously, of course; and no one who does should have any fear of legal retribution from someone who wishes to out them just because they don't like what they wrote. Sarcasm -- even excessive sarcasm -- as political insult goes at least as far back as 1800 ... in the battle for the presidency between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Amazingly, FOX News found the archival videotape of the 19th-century political ads and here it is:



I sure do miss hearing the phrase "hideous hermaphroditical character" tossed around at the Republican debates. Don't you?

Things like First Amendment rights to free speech are usually obvious to every honest and decent American, but rarely are to TeaBaggers with brains too thick and skin too thin.

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