18 May 2010

steve theriot drops "defamation" lawsuit against anonymous online commentators

new york times:
May 18, 2010, 5:10 pm
Louisiana Politician Drops Defamation Suit

Steve J. Theriot, the interim president of Jefferson Parish, La., who this month filed a lawsuit to find out the identities of anonymous commenters who he thought had defamed him on the Web site of the The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, has asked his lawyers to drop the suit, Mr. Theriot said on Tuesday.

“This lawsuit was never intended to silence individuals from expressing their views or suppressing any First Amendment rights,” Mr. Theriot said in the statement. “Rather, the focus was on the detrimental consequences that stem from false and injurious statements being made by anonymous posters and bloggers in cyberspace.”

In the suit, Mr. Theriot and the parish said the commenters were guilty of malicious and defamatory statements, and requested that Nola.com, the online home of The Times-Picayune, release the names of 11 users. James O’Byrne, the director of content at Nola.com had said that it would not disclose the names. Winning the case would have most likely been a difficult battle for Mr. Theriot, because of his status as a public official. ~ source