In the case of Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter vs. multiple bloggers and Board of Education representative Jeff Meadors, Carpenter's attorney has filed a response to the motion to quash filed by the Newton Citizen May 1.
In the motion to quash, Citizen attorney David Hudson stated that the Georgia Shield Law protected the paper from providing IP addresses, usernames and other identifying factors from bloggers who had commented on a variety of stories anonymously on the paper's website.
Additionally, the motion states that the bloggers were afforded protection under the First Amendment. Editor Alice Queen was also subpoenaed to give a deposition and Hudson filed a protective order for her regarding that.
Carpenter's attorney Stephanie Lindsey responded, stating that the Georgia Shield Law was not applicable in the case for three reasons: the statue does not afford a privilege to the Citizen; the statue is not meant to apply to everyone under every circumstance where information is presented through a news medium; and lastly, the facts and circumstances of this particular case falls within the exception in the statue.
According to the motion, "On the face of the statue, the privilege does not extend to a party named in the action. The Newton Citizen has asserted the privilege to quash the subpoena of information sought to identify the John Doe defendants. However, Defendant Meadors is a contributing writer of The Newton Citizen. Therefore, the privilege cannot be exercised."
The response to the motion further contends that "self-proclaimed blogger Shannon Black has disclosed her identity as ‘KBeet' and ‘MsLoy.' As a result of this disclosure, the need to keep her identity confidential is waived. Accordingly, this court should, at a minimum, issue an order directing The Newton Citizen to provide the information sought on defendants KBeet and MsLoy."
Hudson's initial motion to quash stated the bloggers comments were protected from a defamatory suit by the Constitution. The response argues that "there is no wholesale defamation exemption for anything that might be labeled as opinion." The response also addresses the claim of bloggers being protected under the First Amendment, saying that "the right to speak anonymously, on the Internet or anywhere, is not absolute and there is no right to freely defame other persons."
The motion is scheduled to be heard in the court of Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton at 9:30 a.m. on June 19.