A three year old web defamation case is in the news again. It began when Judge Joan Orie Melvin of the Pennsylvania Superior Court filed a defamation suit in Loudon County, Virginia in 1999 against an anonymous webmaster who published comments to his site, hosted by AOL. The AOL legal department posted copies of decisions and litigation in this case, which was dismissed.
In November 2000, Allegheny County (PA) Judge R. Stanton Wettick ruled that Judge Melvin's attorneys should be provided with the names of the webmaster and the 12 individuals who posted critical comments anonymously on the site, but that the names could not otherwise be revealed until the case went to trail.
Judge Melvin has continued to demand to know the names of 13 cyber-critics who posted to the site, called Grant Street '99, which is no longer on the Web. She is pursuing the case in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The ACLU has filed a brief on behalf of the 13 anonymous cyber-critics.