COVINGTON -- The motions hearing in connection with the lawsuit filed by LaQuanda Brown Carpenter against "John Doe" defendants she alleges have commented negatively about her on the Newton Citizen website has been rescheduled for June 19. The hearing was previously set for June 14, with Superior Court Judge Ken Wynne presiding.
However, Wynne has recused himself from the case, citing membership in the same local civic organization as the plaintiff and her husband, and it has been reassigned to Judge Eugene Benton.
Motions set to be heard at 9:30 a.m. in Superior Court include a motion by the Citizen to quash a subpoena seeking the names and information regarding the individuals who used pseudonyms to comment on the Newton Citizen website, as well as the plaintiff's motions to dismiss action against three of the defendants -- "GwinnettTransplant," "spddracer90" and "avidreader" -- originally named in the lawsuit.
Defendants who remain named in the lawsuit as "John Does" are "MsLoy," "bluedeyeddevil," "amp72," "newtoncountyparent," "Watermelonlover," "beautifulblueeyes," "Satan69," and "KBeet."
Carpenter alleges that comments posted on the website between Feb. 10 and April 19, 2012, are false, intended to expose her to "hatred, contempt and/or ridicule" and were made with reckless disregard for the truth.
The Citizen is fighting a subpoena from Carpenter's attorney seeking 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.
Citizen attorney David Hudson, also the attorney for the Georgia Press Association, stated in his motion to quash that the request for documents is invalid because of the qualified privilege for journalists against disclosing the information.
Additionally, he argued that the comments cited in the lawsuit are writers' opinions or criticisms of Carpenter and privileged under the First Amendment.
Newton Citizen reporter Michelle Floyd contributed to this story.