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Judge To Newspaper - Reveal Name of Commenter 307

First time accepted submitter Andy Prough writes "A Kansas judge has ordered a Topeka newspaper to release the name of a commenter on one of its stories about the trial of Anceo D. Stovall for the murder of Natalie Gibson. Using the name 'BePrepared,' the commenter posted the following in response to a story about the ongoing trial on July 21 at 1:45pm: 'Trust me that's all they got in their little world, as you know, I have been there. Remember the pukes names they will do it for ever.' The problem? The court is convinced that 'BePrepared' was a juror, and was not supposed to be accessing news about the trial before it ended on July 24th. The court wants BePrepared's name, address and IP address. The jury was ultimately unable to find Stovall guilty of 10 of the 11 charges against him — including murder. Both defense and prosecution lawyers appear to want a new trial, and if it turns out that BePrepared was a juror, they are more likely to get their wish."
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Judge To Newspaper - Reveal Name of Commenter

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  • News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:07AM (#41840623) Homepage

    News why?

    - Juror suspected of perjury.
    - Court issues order to place that published posts which have a reasonable chance of providing evidence of said perjury, to provide the bare minimum of information to identify the poster.
    - If it's not him, end of case.
    - If it is him, file for mistrial, pursue conviction against him.

    Why is this news? This is bog-standard legal procedure for any medium whatsoever (e.g. newspaper letters page would be the same, or CCTV of him in a pub meeting the defendant, or whatever).

    Because "The Internet" means you should be anonymous, untraceable and able to commit criminal acts? Is that the logic?

  • Seems reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maow ( 620678 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:08AM (#41840631) Journal

    I don't really have a problem if they're investigating whether a juror made the posting.

    Assuming that, if the poster was not a juror, they will retain their anonymity.

    The "release the name" isn't "print it in the newspaper", it's released to the court, which won't release it further... will it?

  • Re:News? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:16AM (#41840677)

    The internet means you should be able to commit anonymous speech acts. That's what some of us feel, anyway.

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:26AM (#41840743) Homepage the alternative to giving a public speaker's name to the government is that a juror's name is released to a newspaper?

    Now that's a dangerous precedent...

  • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:28AM (#41840757) Journal

    Its news as its a bad precident that could easily be abused if allowed to proceed as it is.

    I agree criminals should be dealt with, but not at the cost of another's rights.

    The Constitution says you have a right to free speech. Nowhere does it say you have a right to anonymous speech.

  • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:29AM (#41840761) Homepage

    And had the site not retained information pertaining to his identity, what would they have done? Nothing.

  • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cvtan ( 752695 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:34AM (#41840791)
    "Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads: Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society." []
  • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @08:51AM (#41840937)

    Yeah, because if I were on trial, I'd want a bunch of morons on the jury. Only idiots brag about getting out of jury duty. The idea is that you approach it as a civic duty and you hope to hell your jury members do too if you're ever on trial.

  • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:00AM (#41841011)

    Last time I had jury duty I could easily have gotten out of it, but chose instead to be a productive citizen and not do so.

    Anyone who approaches jury duty with the "I want out of this" attitude should certainly not be sitting on one. They are far less likely to take the responsibility seriously, thus leading to dumb fucking decisions like the Samsung/Apple $1bn judgement.

  • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @09:53AM (#41841491) Journal
    The reason, I think, that people "want out of it" is simply because it is too disruptive for them. It's not necessarily that they are unwilling to try to make a contribution to society, but it can amount to a rather significant commitment that can easily leave one unable to simply pick up their lives where they left off afterward, unless they have acquired enough savings to tide them over while their regular income gets disrupted. Even then, dipping into those funds for such a purpose can amount to a tremendous personal sacrifice... and to be frank, why should a person be *expected* to pay possibly quite significant amounts of money out of their own hard-earned wages in order to do something for somebody else? It's not so much about being selfish, but a lot of people are just trying to do everything they can simply to get by and hopefully try to make their lives better in the future. Jury duty can, for many people, take all such hope away.
  • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:14AM (#41841699)

    Minimum wage would be an excellent place to start. It doesn't send a great message when they set minimum wage laws and then can't be bothered to pay even that for one's oh-so sacred civic duty. I'll leave aside for the moment the fact that in many areas, minimum wage isn't enough to live on.
      And yeah, I'm sticking with "they." Let's not kid ourselves; you and I are not in charge, and discussions about the nature of self-government are academic when you're missing your rent payments.

  • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:15AM (#41841703)

    People get the government they deserve. If you can’t take time out of your life to ensure that we have a civil and just society, don’t expect society to be civil and just.

    Oh, and vote next Tuesday.

  • Re:News? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday November 01, 2012 @11:41AM (#41842717) Homepage Journal

    From what I can tell, statistically nobody getting paid hourly gets paid by their employer for jury duty. It's vanishingly rare. On the other hand, if you're salaried, no problem, they can't fire you. On the gripping hand, that work still has to get done. If you're the only network admin of a smallish internet business or something like that, you probably don't have time for that shit. Most of the time courts are happy to give you a deferment though, and they'll just put you back into the pool and call you again later.

  • Re:News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gander666 ( 723553 ) * on Thursday November 01, 2012 @02:39PM (#41844809) Homepage

    Every jury I have been called for, I was excused from in the voir dire. Apparently, being a physicist, technologist, and having a broad range of knowledge about geopolitical, local, and national issues makes you too smart for one team or the other.

    The last one I was in the selection pool for, I was called in on the first day, seated first in the jury box, and survived until the last strike from the defense team. I was the last person that they rejected. Pissed me off because it took 4 days to get to that point.

    I have come to the conclusion that one side or the other is always interested in having morons sitting in the box.

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn