Posts tagged: Tina Jacobson
Defending herself against a libel suit, Linda Cook of Rathdrum (pictured) says an anonymous comment she made earlier this year on a Spokesman-Review blog was a question about the accounting of GOP funds in Kootenai County, not an allegation of theft. Cook, who is representing herself, filed her court response Tuesday to the suit brought by Tina Jacobson, who also lives in Rathdrum and is former chairwoman of the Kootenai County Republican Party. Cook wrote in her defense that she has proof Jacobson failed to provide annual budget and financial statements to members of the county’s Republican Central Committee. Jacobson failed to provide receipts or details of funds deposited or expenditures as mandated by committee bylaws, Cook argued. And that, she wrote, is what prompted her to post comments Feb. 14 under the name “almostinnocentbystander” on the Huckleberries Online blog/Scott Maben, SR. More here.
A Republican Party official in Kootenai County is pressing ahead with her defamation suit against a woman who posted online comments about missing GOP funds. Tina Jacobson, a Rathdrum resident and the former chairwoman of the Kootenai County Republican Party, has named Linda Cook in her suit over comments Cook made anonymously on The Spokesman-Review’s Huckleberries Online blog. In an amended filing Monday, Jacobson’s lawyer alleges that Cook also is in breach of contract for refusing to abide by an agreement to settle the claims against her. That agreement included a public apology and a donation of an undisclosed sum to a charity, according to the complaint prepared by Coeur d’Alene attorney Matthew Andersen. The suit does not name The Spokesman-Review or blog administrator Dave Oliveria, but it does allege that Oliveria conspired to obstruct the identification of Cook as author of the blog comments, leading Jacobson to pursue legal action to get the name/Scott Maben, SR. More here.
NPR just posted “All Things Considered” story by Martin Kaste re: Tina Jacobson case vs. Linda Cook (pictured), including this excerpt from Yours Truly: “But Dave Oliveria, who runs Huckleberries Online, the Spokesman-Review blog where the offending comment appeared, feels differently. “To have free speech in this community, I think you have to have anonymity,” Oliveria argues. Huckleberries Online covers Coeur d'Alene and northern Idaho, small communities where there's a constant battle between the factions of the dominant Republican Party. “In this town, there's so much infighting, if some of these folks identified themselves, they couldn't make these comments,” Oliveria says. “I have a lot of folks online here that are in a lot of key positions in the community.” If his bosses at the Spokesman-Review required real names, he says, it would kill his blog — and deprive the community of a crucial forum. But Oliveria also admits he can only keep that discussion constructive by spending a lot of time monitoring it, and blocking the trolls. More here. Audio available at 4 p.m.
Question: Did I describe the political climate here accurately?
Rick Anderson of Seattle Weekly provides his take on the Tina Jacobson/Linda Cook lawsuit, including: “GOP leader Jacobson is now mulling her next legal step, and appears to have put the kibosh on the theft rumor. She also has newspapers rethinking the value of allowing free-form anonymous comments.” As far as I can tell, the Spokesman-Review isn't re-thinking its policy re: allowing anonymous people to comment. But anonymous posters should be forewarned that we're probably not going to spend tens of thousands of dollars in Idaho courts protecting identities from the next possible defamation lawsuit. BTW, I noticed that Anderson refers to me as Dan Oliveria. Which means it's harder for me to hang onto my 15 minutes of fame here.
Question: Which name do you like better for a North Idaho blogger — Dan, Dave or D.F. Oliveria?
The Spokesman-Review has engaged in some important and costly legal challenges in recent months that produced mixed results, but our watchdog efforts remain an integral component of the newsroom’s commitment to our audience and the community. In one case, we lost in the effort to protect an anonymous commenter on one of our most popular online blogs, while in another case we succeeded in persuading a federal judge to unseal transcripts of the secretive query of jurors who convicted former Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. in connection with his deadly confrontation with Otto Zehm. Meanwhile, our legal counsel is helping us push for release of disciplinary records involving a few public school teachers in the region. The case involving the anonymous comments posted on Huckleberries Online, a blog written, compiled and maintained by veteran Idaho journalist Dave Oliveria, was clearly the most complicated of the recent challenges/SR Editor Gary Graham. More here. (SR photo of Editor Gary Graham)
A lawsuit in north Idaho over anonymous comments posted in an online forum attracted national attention. Now, the commenter at the center of that dispute has unmasked herself. The case reveals a rift within the north Idaho Republican Party. Linda Cook of Rathdrum, Idaho, pictured, is a former congressional aide and long-time Republican campaign worker. Back in February, Cook made anonymous comments on a north Idaho blog hosted by the Spokane Spokesman-Review newspaper. Using the pseudonym “almostinnocentbystander” Cook asked a question insinuating that the chair of the local party, might have pocketed $10,000 in party funds. Party chair Tina Jacobson called for an audit and filed a defamation suit. But Cook says she wanted to use the anonymous forum to address a feud over party expenditures/Jessica Robinson, National Public Radio. More here including audio of story with Linda Cook comment.
Linda Cook (pictured in Phantom Photographer photo, above, tending her garden) isn’t the squeamish type. Most of the time she says her piece — fire and brimstone included, no extra charge — with her name firmly attached. But back in February, she posed a question on a Spokesman-Review blog from the shadows of an online pen name, almostinnocentbystander. That question, which by Cook’s description was an admittedly “sarcastic, facetious query” that she subsequently apologized for, has made her the target of a lawsuit that would have outed Cook had she not stepped out of the shadows before a court mandated it. Now that the object of her facetious question, former Kootenai County Republican Central Committee Chair Tina Jacobson, inset photo, has learned the true identity of her critic, it’s up to Jacobson to decide whether the courts should attempt to provide further remedy. We hope not. We hope the public exposure is enough to make Jacobson decide that the bill for being criticized as a public official, even if the criticism was hurtful, has been sufficiently paid/Editor Mike Patrick, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Linda Cook, the mystery commenter formerly known as Almost Innocent Bystander, reads a blog online. Cook outed herself to the Coeur d'Alene Press Monday. The Spokesman-Review has announced it will comply with a judge's order to provide information about her identity today. (Photo by Phantom Photographer)
North Idaho Republican political campaign worker Linda Cook says she is “almostinnocentbystander,” the anonymous online commenter on the Spokesman-Review website who allegedly defamed Kootenai County Republican leader Tina Jacobson. Cook worked in North Idaho on the Vaughn Ward campaign for Congress two years ago, a bid that fell short against current U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador. Ward said Cook was a campaign worker for him for nine months, but he declined further comment. Cook, 55, of Rathdrum, also has worked on campaigns for former Idaho state Sen. Mike Jorgenson, current Idaho state Rep. Kathleen Sims, and was a congressional aide for late U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho. All are Republicans. A judge in 1st District Court earlier this month ruled the Spokesman-Review must give Jacobson and her attorney information that could lead to the identity of almostinnocentbystander. The newspaper won't appeal Judge John Luster's recent order/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Photo: Linda Cook being sworn in as an officer in a local Republican Women's club)
A judge has ordered this newspaper to turn over information about a person who made a potentially libelous comment under an assumed name on the website. This, of course, will have a chilling effect on free speech. A chilling effect is what we in the free-speech business always warn about. We do not want to chill speech; we want it hot and loose. This speech, though? This anonymous lobbing of insults? Chill it. Give it frostbite, even. It feels traitorous to say so. My training and background and beliefs lead me to certain articles of faith: More speech is always better; protecting the identity of sources is noble; anonymous information is often an important tool for getting at the truth; journalistic organizations must stand against government efforts to usurp newsgathering for their purposes. But what has emerged in the era of online commenting is, about three-quarters of the time, a sewer of stupidity and insults and shallowness/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.
Question: Do you agree with SR columnist Shawn Vestal that Internet speech should be chilled, in light of Judge John Luster's ruling last week that the SR must reveal source of questionable comment?
Here's the SR version of today's court hearing: Forcing The Spokesman-Review to reveal the identities of three anonymous commenters on its Huckleberries Online blog would quell free speech by raising fears that people posting critical remarks would be outed and sued, the newspaper’s attorney argued Friday in court. “It’s an issue of huge concern to The Spokesman-Review. If people are going to be outed on that site…it will lose its effectiveness” as a news forum about matters of importance in North Idaho, said the news company’s attorney, Duane Swinton, of Witherspoon Kelley. The Spokesman-Review asked an Idaho district court judge to quash a subpoena filed by Kootenai County Republican chairwoman Tina Jacobson, seeking the identities of three Huckleberries Online readers who commented anonymously about her. Jacobson’s attorney, C. Matthew Andersen, of Winston & Cashatt, argued that Jacobson’s reputation was harmed by the remarks, and he needed the commenters’ identities to pursue a defamation lawsuit. District Court Judge John Luster made no decision Friday, saying he required time to consider the matter/Becky Kramer, SR. More here.
Some of the current county GOP CC leaders are shown in this 2010 Fourth of July Parade float, including Doug Balija, far left, and Tony Wisniewski, third from left. Balija is the GOP treasurer and Wisniewski the vice president. (Phantom Photographer photo)
The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee chose Neil Oliver as its new chairman at the Garden Plaza on Thursday night. Oliver edged Brent Regan 34-31 in voting by the precinct committee members. “I look forward to the challenge,” Oliver told nearly 200 attendees. “I hope to fill your needs and earn your trust. I'm a big follower of by-laws. Those by-laws were put in by the people before us.” Oliver said those in the political party will disagree, but it's important to respect each other and unify to change the direction of the country. “One of the most important things is the way the public views the Republican Party,” he said. “If we seem scattered, that reflects poorly on us”/Brian Walker, CdA Press.
Question: Yeah, I know Cindy published this last week while I was on vacation. But I wanted to break this down further by inviting insiders to tell us what happened in the Oliver win over Regan. Anyone?
Reminder: Judge John Luster (Courtroom #1) will hear arguments on the SR motion to quash Tina Jacobson's subpoena beginning at 9 a.m. Friday at the Kootenai County courthouse.
First District Judge John Luster will hear The Spokesman-Review's motion to quash a subpoena filed by former Kootenai County GOP CC chairman Tina Jacobson, seeking the names of three anonymous HucksOnline commenters. The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. We don't know how long the hearing will last, or whether Judge Luster will hand down a decision Friday. He may take the matter under advisement. In preparation for Friday morning's event, I'm posting links to the key stories about Jacobson's lawsuit against John/Jane Doe, her subpoena and other important stories along the way:
Earlier, I posted the response by Tina Jacobson's lawyers to the Spokesman-Review's motion to quash Jacobson's subpoena seeking identities for three anonymous HucksOnline commenters: almostinnocentbystander, Phaedrus & OutOfStateTater. The memorandum was issued last week while I was on vacation. The SR has responded to the memorandum today, stating that “there is no doubt that the First Amendment protects the right to speak anonymously” and providing case law. In their reply for the SR, Duane Swinton and Joel Hazel of Witherspoon Kelley state in part: “Fortunately the bluster” of the plaintiff in her motion to quash the supoena “does not override nor defeat the significant constitutional issues raised by the Spokesman-Review's Motion to Quash the subpoena served on it.” Read reply for SR attorneys here.
Question: I wonder if the commenters on the other local blogs, despite their possible contempt for HucksOnline, understand how important our defense against Tina Jacobson is for them?
Attorneys for former Kootenai County GOP CC Chairwoman Tina Jacobson, has filed the following memorandum to the motion to quash subpoena filed against the Spokesman-Review in her attempt to gain the identity of three anonymous HucksOnline posters. The memorandum contends that the newspaper has no legal basis to file motion to quash and asks that Judge John Luster deny the motion, reading in part: “The service provider claims federal statutory immunity for liable appearing on its blog but is not a party to the action. However, the provider purports to stand in the shoes of the defamer and is applying legal doctrines inapplicable to an internet provider to shield the wrongdoer. The subject matter of the subpoen does not deal with the information in the hands of the newspaper or involved a newspaper's attendant rights under the law.” You can read the memorandum by Winston & Cashatt attorney C. Matthew Andersen here.
The lawyer for Tina Jacobson has requested that the blog post notice of an upcoming court hearing:
Dear Mr. Swinton:
I request that your client post on its HuckleberriesOnline website the following notice related to the pending Spokesman-Review motion to quash the Subpoena Duces Tecum. If this request occasions any difficulty please advise. Thank you in advance for the professional courtesy in accommodating this notice to the effected bloggers. (Full notice here)
C. Matthew Andersen
Attorney for Tina Jacobson
(Kootenai County GOP Central Committee Chairwoman Tina) Jacobson is demanding the identity of one or more people she believes have accused her of a crime. Of particular displeasure to the county's Republican Party leader was this question, posed on Dave Oliveria's “Huckleberries” blog after Oliveria posted a photo that included Jacobson on a stage with other Republicans: “Is that the missing $10,000 in Kootenai County Central Committee funds actually stuffed inside Tina's blouse??? Let's not try to find out.” The Spokesman-Review's attorneys argue that the comment doesn't constitute a factual assertion that Jacobson stole any money - or even that any money had gone missing. But even if it did, our question is this: How damaging is an anonymous opinion stated on a blog that makes no claim to the information being accurate or even substantially true? If someone had spray-painted the same thing on a downtown wall, would Jacobson sue the building's owner? Because what's happened here is very much like graffiti; the comment may be eye-catching but it lacks credibility because nobody is owning up to it/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.
A hearing on the motion to quash a subpoena filed by Kootenai County GOP Central Committee Chairwoman Tina Jacobson against the Spokesman-Review is scheduled before 1st District Judge John Luster at 9 a.m. Friday, June 1. Jacobson filed the subpoena seeking to gain the identity of three anonymous commenters who posted under a thread about then Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's visit to Coeur d'Alene on Feb. 14: almostinnocentbystander, Phaedrus and Out of Stater Tater. Jacobson has filed suit against John/Jane Doe, alleging that she was defamed by the comments made by almostinnocentbystander. You can read the thread under the photo (with the comments removed here). Point No. 10 in the affidavit filed on behalf of the paper and myself by Duane Swinton and Joel Hazel of Witherspoon Kelley reads: “In one blog posting, a poster identified as 'almostinnocentbystander” stated somewhat fancifully, 'Is that the missing $10,000 in Kootenai County Central Committee funds actually stuffed inside Tina's blouse??? Let's not try to find out.' I (DFO) did not view this posting as a factual assertion that Tina Jacobson had stolen $10,000. Two subsequent postings, one by 'Phaedrus' and one by 'OutofStateTater,' addressed almost innocent bystander's comment.” You can read the affidavit here. And Exhibits A & B here (including original comments thread. You can read support information prepared by Witherspoon Kelley here.
Looks like the lawsuit filed by Kootenai County GOP CC Chairwoman Tina Jacobson has grown legs. The Seattle Weekly reports: “This is a story that is embarrassing to a Republican Party chair in Idaho, and you have her to thank for it. She apparently feels someone has accused her of a crime - taking $10,000 and hiding it on “her person.” This was said in a Spokane newspaper column called Huckleberries Online - not by the columnist, but by an anonymous commenter. The claim was later removed, and might have since been forgotten. But Kootenai County GOP Central Committee Chair Tina Jacobson has now filed a lawsuit to force the newspaper to identity the commenter, turning a little story into a bigger one. As a commenter says now that the bigger story has developed, 'Cool… this should be fun to watch…'/Rick Anderson, Seattle Weekly. More here.
DFO: Papers all over the state and USA Today also have reported on this lawsuit & the subpoena filed on behalf of Jacobson in an attempt to find the identity of three Huckleberries Online commenters.
This week, The Spokesman-Review, through attorney Duane Swinton of Witherspoon-Kelley, will file a motion to quash the subpoena filed against the newspaper on behalf of Kootenai County GOP Central Committee Chairwoman Tina Jacobson (pictured). Jacobson is attempting to gain the identity of 3 anonymous individuals who posted on a Feb. 14 comments thread: Almost Innocent Bystander, Phaedrus and Out of Stater Tater. Jacobson has filed a lawsuit against “John and/or Jane Doe” alleging Almost Innocent Bystander libeled her in a post on Huckleberries Online. According to the lawsuit filed by Jacobson's attorney, Winston & Cashatt, “The entry as published via the internet stated there was $10,000 missing from the Republican Central Committee funds and that the missing funds were hidden on the person of Mrs. Jacobson.” The lawsuit denounces both claims as false. Jacobson's attorneys have asked that the identities of the three named posters and other documentation be made available to Winston & Cashatt, 250 Northwest Boulevard/CdA, by 10 o'clock Friday morning.
Attorneys on behalf of Kootenai County GOP Chairwoman Tina Jacobson have subpoenaed the Spokesman-Review to produce documents establishing the identities of three anonymous Huckleberries Online bloggers: “almostinnocentbystander,” “Phaedrus” and “OutofStatertater.” The three commented in a thread in which “almostinnocentbystander” made a comment about Jacobson at the rally for GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum in Coeur d'Alene Feb. 14. Story here. Jacobson's law firm of Winston & Cashatt has asked the SR to produce these documents and others to its Coeur d'Alene office by 10 a.m. Friday, May 4. You can read the subpoena here.