26 May 2015
Today, Judge Adams issued a ruling in the Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author case relating to @pubnt’s letter to the court in February that the judge interpreted as a Motion to Quash (the defense subpoena to Twitter to determine the identity/identities of the @pubnt account).
From the ruling (note: I’ve replaced Jane Litte’s legal name with her Dear Author pseudonym; other square brackets are from the Court):
In their letter – let alone the actual tweets on the account – the @pubnt “owners” confirm that they have knowledge about the underlying allegations and defenses, such as claims for defamation/libel and the defenses of truth, substantial truth, and lack of malice. For example, the “owners” state:
- “The Defendant in this case is a vicious troll who leads a gang defaming and harassing successful people and anyone who supports them.” Doc. 31 at 1.
- “If you peruse our Twitter account you will be able to verify every legal argument and statement we have put forward is against the Defendant’s case. You will see clearly that there is nothing we have stated that will support the Defense’s case and everything we have said defeats the Defendant’s case.” Doc. 31 at 2.
- “This is added proof of Malice [sic] against the Claimant [i.e. Plaintiffs].” Doc. 31 at 2.
- “We present evidence below that the Defendant, [Jane Litte], is a vicious troll who runs a gang and maliciously attacks, runs smear campaigns against, libels, stalks, and criminally harasses successful businesses and individuals in the publishing industry.” Doc. 31 at 3.
- “Some years ago [Defendant] [Jane Litte] and [sic] a similar smear campaign against a small publisher, libeling and defaming the publisher, similar to her current smear campaign she has started against [Plaintiff] Ellora’s Cave.” Doc. 31 at 3 (@pubnt then provides a web address purporting to support this allegation).
The judge was unimpressed. From the ruling (bracketed text mine):
Simply reading the [@pubnt] “owners’” letter demonstrates that they have relevant information that is discoverable in this case. Merely because the Defendants may be able to obtain certain information from other sources does not render the subpoena unnecessary. Furthermore, Defendants are entitled to pursue discoverable evidence from the primary source, instead of merely accepting statements by the “owners” that information they have can be procured by other means (especially considering the tenor of their letter shows an almost venomous disregard for Defendants).
I want to reiterate here: a few things about this side issue are important:
These, taken together, are very curious indeed. The only concept that makes sense to me is that Ellora’s Cave knew perfectly well who @pubnt was and already had them on their persons with discoverable information list. To reiterate, This list consists of five people:
So why, if, as @pubnt claimed, the only information they have is to help plaintiff’s case, would the defense subpoena Twitter? Taken at face value, that would only seem to hurt defense’s case, right?
Well, if @pubnt is someone(s) who’s not already on the existing defense list, they also may have unprivileged information that can help make defense’s case—or disprove plaintiff’s.
Meanwhile, time for popcorn!