EFF and the Media Freedom and Information Access Practicum (MFIA) at Yale Law School filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Stone v. Paddock Publications, urging the Illinois Court of Appeals to block the unmasking of an anonymous online critic of a local political candidate.
The critic, commenting on a story on the website of a suburban Chicago newspaper called the Daily Herald, engaged in a heated debate with other commenters. One turned out to be the son of the village trustee candidate in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, who was discussed in the article. The candidate, Lisa Stone, who eventually won her race, asked a state court to order the newspaper to release the critic's name and address without appropriately showing that the statements directed towards her son were defamatory or otherwise illegal. Stone indicated that she may choose to subsequently file a lawsuit once she determines the critic's identity through the pre-complaint procedure.
In November, a lower court granted Stone's pre-lawsuit request for her critic's identity, incorrectly holding that a narrow disclosure to Stone would adequately protect the speaker's First Amendment rights. The court stayed the disclosure requirement in light of the speaker's appeal.
Please see full reply brief below for more information.
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