Idaho Judge Orders Newspaper to Out Anonymous Blogger

Posted by George Prentice on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 9:18 AM

A newspaper has been ordered to reveal the identity of an anonymous commenter on the newspaper's blog.

Idaho 1st District Judge John Luster handed down a ruling Tuesday that the Spokesman-Review must give Tina Jacobson the name of the commenter who suggested that Jacobson had stolen $10,000 from the Republican Party. Jacobson is the former chair of the Kootenai County Republican Party Central Committee.

Jacobson filed suit in April in the wake of a few unkind remarks about her on the Spokesman-Review's Huckleberries blog. On Feb. 14, a commenter, going only by the identity of "almostinnocentbystander," wrote that the missing funds were hidden on Jacobson's body.

Almostinnocentbystander" wrote: "Is that the missing $10,000 from Kootenai County Central Committee funds actually stuffed inside Tina's blouse??? Let's not try to find out."

The comment was deleted but had been visible for 2 1/2 hours.

The Spokesman-Review filed a motion to quash Jacobson's effort to reveal the identity, but to no avail.

Luster ordered the newspaper to provide any information to Jacobson that could lead to the identity of almostinnocentbystander. The ruling said the paper must provide a copy of any communication between Spokesman-Review employees and the commenter and must also confirm that almostinnocentbystander has not been re-established as a commenter on Spokesman-Review blogs.

The Spokesman-Review has 14 days to comply with the ruling. The paper reported Tuesday night that the Spokesman-Review's editor, Gary Graham, has not decided whether to pursue an appeal.

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