NJ Township wants to out anonymous blogger.

Stuart Moskovitz was serving as the attorney for Manalapan Township, New Jersey in 2005. The Township wanted to buy land near its recreation center, presumably for expansion purposes, and Mr. Moskovitz drafted the purchase agreement. After the sale went through, an underground heating oil tank was found on the property. Soil testing revealed heating oil and pesticide contamination. The land can’t be used until it’s cleaned up.

Back in June of this year, the Township filed a legal malpractice lawsuit against its former attorney, alleging that Mr. Moskovitz breached the applicable standard of care by failing to include indemnity provisions in the purchase agreement that would allow the Township to go after the prior owners for cleanup costs. The Township’s decision to sue generated a lot of controversy, most of which centered on the very real possibility that even if the malpractice allegation has merit, the Township would spend more on attorney fees than it could ever hope to recover.

One vocal critic of the litigation — and of Township government in general — is an anonymous Blogspot blogger known as daTruthSquad. The Township, apparently convinced that daTruthSquad is actually Mr. Moskovitz, served a subpoena on Google, Blogspot’s owner. The Township demanded that Google turn over the blogger’s identity along with “any and all information related to the blog.”

The Township’s lawyers, who have reportedly billed some $100,000 over the six months the case has been pending, now find they have a tiger by the tail. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has taken up the blogger’s cause, filing a thirty-page motion to quash the subpoena. The motion raised all the standard defenses — a subpoena issued in connection with litigation in one state and served in another state isn’t valid, the subpoena is a mere fishing expedition that isn’t reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, etc. — along with First Amendment and federal statutory arguments.

The motion to quash and a host of other court filings are available here courtesy of EFF. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for today, and should be under way even as I type.

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Comments

  • iT  On December 21, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    Quasheroonie. Good stuff.

Trackbacks

  • […] Here we discussed the efforts of a New Jersey Township/civil litigant to out an anonymous Blogspot blogger critical of the litigation and Township governance generally, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s efforts to quash the Township’s subpoena.  Yesterday the New Jersey state court judge presiding over the case granted EFF’s motion, which means that Google (Blogspot’s owner) need not comply with the Township’s demand for information on the blogger’s identity. […]

  • […] Here we discussed the efforts of a New Jersey Township/civil litigant to out an anonymous Blogspot blogger critical of the litigation and Township governance generally, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s efforts to quash the Township’s subpoena. Yesterday the New Jersey state court judge presiding over the case granted EFF’s motion, which means that Google (Blogspot’s owner) need not comply with the Township’s demand for information on the blogger’s identity. […]

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