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Judge grants motion to quash subpoena

COVINGTON -- A Newton County Superior Court judge has granted the Newton Citizen's motion to quash a subpoena seeking information from the newspaper for a defamation suit that would identify anonymous web posters.

Judge Eugene Benton signed an order Thursday granting the Citizen's motion to stop the subpoena, which was issued in connection with a lawsuit filed by LaQuanda Brown Carpenter, principal of Alcovy High School. Attorney Stephanie Lindsey filed the suit on behalf of Carpenter in April against 11 "John Does" who commented about Carpenter on the Citizen website. The lawsuit was later amended to include eight web posters.

The subpoena requested from the Citizen all information and documents sufficient to identify the names, addresses and telephone numbers associated with those named in the lawsuit, as well as documents reproducing the texts of the comments from Jan. 1, 2011, to present and all server logs, IP address logs, account information, account access records and application or registration forms related to those named.

"Judge Benton held that the subpoena to the newspaper was covered by the Georgia Shield Law," said David Hudson, the attorney for the Georgia Press Association who is representing the Citizen. "Pursuant to that law, a party may not force the disclosure of information from a newspaper until the party has first exhausted alternative sources to acquire the information."

The order also requires that the plaintiff must notify the anonymous posters on the Citizen's message board of their right to appear in this matter and remain anonymous through representation by counsel until the court orders otherwise. The plaintiff must provide the notification to the court for prior approval before posting it.

"Judge Benton also held that the First Amendment protects anonymous speech as well as speech communicated via the Internet," Hudson said about the ruling.

The order rules that the plaintiff will still have the right to reissue the subpoena at a later date.

"If Ms. Carpenter and her lawyer take all the required steps and still come up empty, then they can serve a new subpoena," Hudson said. "At that point the issue would also be which ones, if any, of the comments alleged in the complaint can sustain defamation claims, as opposed to being statements of opinion that are not actionable."

Hudson said that as far as he knows, this is the first case on the identity of anonymous bloggers in Georgia.

"It is a precedent-setter in that regard," he said.

Comments

amp72 2 years, 1 month ago

Thank you to the Citizen and to Mr. Hudson for protecting our Constitutional rights. Now Mrs. Carpenter, get to work fixing your school. On information and belief, you are not fit to run a high school and it is time for a change at Alcovy and NCSS in general.

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dennistay53 2 years, 1 month ago

This is only the first step, but what a big step for the first amendment. Now we will just have to wait to see what she does next. Mrs Black and the others including Mr Meadors still needs our support. Thank you Newton Citizen, Mrs Queen and reporters as well as Mr Hudson for taking this stand.

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Grandcanyon 2 years, 1 month ago

Stephanie tell us please did you clear your postings last week with the court?  We sort of doubt it based on how sloppy you worked them.

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Satan69 2 years, 1 month ago

Sounds like Lindsey screwed up over and over - hauling innocent people in to court.  Will she have to pay for their lost wages for work missed?  Please sue Carpenter for all lost wages and fees for attorneys if you had any people.

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eyematter 2 years, 1 month ago

The travesty of shallow minds to allow petty grievances to impact whole schooldistict. The process works when properly handled by the those in charge. The SMOKE SCREEN that policies have been broken,should have followed the the procedures that have been put in place. I am embarassed to know that ADULTS can cowardly assassinate the character of a person with inuendo of confusion. These are probably the staff who did not like an evaluation and did not exercise the grievance procedure. The blogging process allows them to thro rocks and hide their hands. All our children are NOT thugs at Alcovy. The children have a right to learn in a safe environment. We should want that ALL our schools. Our agenda should be to positively work to enhance the the school system at every level. PTO is the same every where, you only show up when your child is on stage,then leave after their performance, never stay for business sessions, parent conferences....I challenge my child teacher as to how I can help my child be all they can be. We chosed to move to this community, because it shows promise. The common theme that is expressed is present in every school in Rockdale,Gwinnett,Morgan and other surrounding communities. How do we prepare leaders to lead if we revert to common negativity. I have shared with some Board members and they were right not to micro manage the system, their role is to establish policy, if the policy in place should not be altered to satisfy YOUR personal agenda or cause havoc. There has not been a report in this blog to speak to the Gates Scholars in our system. Our school system can compete.......look at our areas of improvement. WHatever system that is put in place...........some will always complain ! ! I challenge you to GET INVOLVED positively...to make ALL OUR SCHOOLS BETTER ......Strong

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gsm7476 2 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the use of free speech. By the way what is your name?

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AWOL 2 years, 1 month ago

this post is too long and I'm not reading it. Shorten it up.

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dennistay53 2 years, 1 month ago

One policy change could have stopped this or slowed it down if it had been in place or enforced. See if you can figure it out.

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CadyJackson 2 years, 1 month ago

Let me address one particular statement of that I do agree with:

"The children have a right to learn in a safe environment. "

Based on the number of youtube videos that are of fights at Alcovy, one can only surmise that an equal number (or more) fights don't get recorded and posted. Based on the evidence presented to the world wide web, Alcovy is NOT a safe school. It is the leadership of the school that has the responsibility to ensure that the children are safe. UNDER INFORMATION AND BELIEF, the leadership of Alcovy High School has not functioned in this capacity, and a change should be made.

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mrbill 2 years, 1 month ago

This post is largely grammatically incorrect and difficult to understand. Clearly no one got involved to make his/her school better. By the way, we know that all students who attend Alcovy are not thugs. Those are the students these posters are fighting for. Decent students have the right to an education that is free of threat and intimidation. They should be able to walk the grounds of the school without worrying about what a thug may say or do to them. The administration has a duty to ensure the safety of its students. Clean up the school. Get strong on consequences for criminal behavior and support the teachers!

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amp72 2 years, 1 month ago

Your writing style makes my head hurt. First of all, there is NO grievance procedure. And when the HR director is married to the principal then it becomes obvious how it is impossible to follow any chain of command without fear of reprisal. You are right, not all of the kids at AHS are thugs and that's precisely why everyone is speaking out. The kids and teachers at Alcovy deserve better. Why are dozens of people contacting Mr. Meadors to express dissatisfaction with what is going on in his district? And you have no clue whether or not these "staff did not like their evaluations." You clearly have no clue how things work. You just can't accept the fact that this IS a way to get involved positively. If the school system leaders will wake up and realize there is a problem with the school leadership then positive change will be the result. Pretty simple.

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gsm7476 2 years, 1 month ago

come on guys its the 4th of july freedom day. Lets drop all this mess and enjoy the real fireworks. Have a BBQ. Lets give everyone a break.

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Billy 2 years, 1 month ago

I told youse guys that all this would come to nothing. The First Amendment says it all. If you can't stand the heat, principal, get out of the kitchen--and take your hubby and lawyer when you go...

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gsm7476 2 years, 1 month ago

what are we going to do now?

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tomgahunter 2 years, 1 month ago

When will the School Administration & School Board bring this train wreack to an end? Our school leadership needs to get off their hands & end this mess.

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Sundance 2 years, 1 month ago

I don't really know how the court works. does this mean the whole thing is over? or does this just leave like it was on the 19th when the judge said kinda the same thing? Was there ever really going to be a lawsuit or did Carter just want the names so she could get tough with them?

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dennistay53 2 years, 1 month ago

I think that depends on Lindsey. She can go forward but it became harder for her. She's gonna have to work harder to keep the case alive.

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Frustrated 2 years, 1 month ago

This only makes it official. The judge made his ruling on the 19th but has now signed the official order making it legal record. This is just putting off the next step until Lindsey can prove she exhausted all means to identify the commenters. She has already started with the notices she published. This isnt over by any means. She will just come back to the court in a few weeks and say she hasnt been able to identify anyone and ask the court to order the Citizen to hand over the information even though she hasnt done anything other than post a couple of things in the comment section.

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TheRealStephanieLindsey 2 years, 1 month ago

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning!

(LEGAL DISCLAIMER: In no way am I trying to assume, pretend, act, or identifty myself as the attorney Stephanie Lindsey, and any comment posted under the name THEREALSTEPHANIELINDSEY is purely for entertainment value only)

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gsm7476 2 years, 1 month ago

(LEGAL DISCLAIMER: In no way am I trying to assume, pretend, act, or identifty myself as myself, and any comment posted under the name THEREALSTEPHANIELINDSEY is purely for entertainment value only)

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gsm7476 2 years, 1 month ago

i am having a bbq on the 4th you all invited. Except for satan you need to read Jhon 3:16 first. I will be showing an undercover video from a city on the coast soon to on youtube and facebook near you.

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Satan69 2 years, 1 month ago

Is it true that Stephanie Lindsey has called off her campaign for Judge?  Is it true? 

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sunshine 2 years, 1 month ago

Wow! this is exactly why i pulled my kid out of Alcovy!!!!!

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Crazyhooker99 2 years, 1 month ago

Why did this happen?  How much more is happening?  Is this a piece of the puzzle?  Think so.   GA Sec of State site (look who was in biz together while one supervised one's HR and budget):  http://corp.sos.state.ga.us/corp/soskb/corp.asp?1531560   BOE policy:  http://newtoncountyschools.org/board/ncss-policy-gag-staff_conflict_interest.asp

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tomgahunter 2 years, 1 month ago

I don't understand:

  1. What is the relationship of the Carpenters and LEAD LEARNERS, L.L.C. ?

  2. What is the relationship of LEAD LEARNERS, L.L.C. and the Newton County School system?

Thanks..Tom

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AWOL 2 years, 1 month ago

Dr. Carpenter. A lawsuit isn't the answer. If they do not fire you. Please just apologize for not handling this professionally and follow the advice in this video.

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CBSfinder 2 years, 1 month ago

Ah the hormones of pregnancy.  Wow the other paper is reporting some "anonymous" tipster stuff.  Is Stephanie Lindsey the "anonymous" source?  We think so.  She has joined the bloggers and gone back and forth at them so immature of her first accuse then join.  Woman you aint never gone be Judge.  So LaQuanda Brown Carpenter, as Southwest DeKalb High graduate according to her Grand Canyon Online teaching resume, is now going after a former teacher.  We saw her email going after the other teacher.  She goes after "an employee of defendant . . . " for having it out with her on the phone over a classroom testing issue and certification of a sub and so the motto is:  If you see bad things going on at Alcovy High School take them straight to the newspaper.   Straight to the newspaper.

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amp72 2 years, 1 month ago

Hi Dennis! How much company time are you spending on this today? How much taxpayer money have you spent today fighting wifey's battles? How much whining have you done to Dr. Mathews today? Have you resigned again today, only to take it back? Hi Dennis! Have a great day!

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