COVINGTON -- Newton County Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton is expected to hear motions Tuesday in connection with the lawsuit filed by the Alcovy High School principal who claims remarks made on the Citizen website by eight commenters are libelous.
Benton is scheduled to hear the motions at 9:30 a.m. at the Judicial Center on Usher Street..
In April, attorney Stephanie Lindsey filed a lawsuit on behalf of Principal LaQuanda Carpenter, claiming originally that 11 commenters posted libelous, defamatory comments and false information that subjected her to public hatred.
In May, she removed three names, and earlier this month, she added Newton County Board of Education Vice Chair Jeff Meadors, claiming he created three of the IDs to make comments on the site.
David Hudson, the attorney for the Georgia Press Association who is representing the Citizen, filed a motion in May to quash a subpoena that requests from the Citizen all information and documents sufficient to identify the names, addresses and telephone numbers associated with the commenters, as well as documents reproducing the texts of the comments and all server logs, IP address logs, account information, account access records and application or registration forms related to the commenters.
Hudson's motion cites that the request for documents is invalid because of the qualified privilege for journalists against disclosing the information and that the anonymous commenters are afforded protection under the First Amendment.
In a response to the motion filed earlier this month, Carpenter claims that the information sought is relevant to identify the commenters.
Hudson said Monday that the motions hearing will simply center on legal arguments. He said that in some cases the judge will make a decision that day, but he could take information under advisement, thus delaying a decision.
Hudson said that even if the judge agrees with the motion to quash the subpoena, the case could still continue.
"Sometimes the law requires the plaintiff to go through several steps, so it could go back to us (later)," he said.
Meadors and Shannon Black, an individual who has claimed two of the IDs, have confirmed that they have been subpoenaed to appear Tuesday.
Black claimed Monday that she received a hand-written threatening letter on her car overnight Sunday; she has turned it over to the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, which is handling a report of some other threats she has received via her cell phone and by visits to her home in Conyers.
The letter states that she should "watch her back" in court and that she should "keep her mouth shut" in court. The person who wrote the letter claims to know where she works and lives and to have her phone number.
The person also claims to have called and visited her home and threatens to return and also will be watching her in court today.
RCSO is heavily patrolling her home since Black turned over the letter to authorities, according to RCSO Investigator Michael Camp. He said deputies couldn't retrieve fingerprints from the letter since it was brought into the office and not left at the scene without being touched. Black has been instructed to call 911 immediately if any strangers visit her home, authorities said.