Supreme Court of Texas Quashes Subpoena, Rules that Anonymous Bloggers Need Not Be Disclosed

April 27th, 2011

Evan Brown at Internet Cases blogs about In re Does from the Texas Supreme Court:

The supreme court of Texas has issued an opinion that protects the anonymity of a couple of bloggers who were accused of defamation, copyright infringement and invasion of privacy by another blogger. The court ordered that a subpoena served on Google (who hosted the Blogger accounts in question) be quashed.

In short, the trial court did not make relevant findings with respect to Tex. R. Civ. P. 202 (governing pre-trial depositions), and as such abused its discretion.

However the Court did not rely on the FIrst Amendment, rather basing the opinion on the state procedural rule.

The intrusion into otherwise private matters authorized by Rule 202 outside a lawsuit is not to be taken lightly. One noted commentator, Professor Lonny Hoffman, has observed that there is “cause for concern about insufficient judicial attention to petitions to take presuit discovery” and that “judges should maintain an active oversight role to ensure that [such discovery is] not misused”. Access to Information, Access to Justice: The Rule of Presuit Investigatory Discovery, 40 U. MICH. J.L. REFORM217, 273–74 (2007). We agree.

Interesting development for anonymous bloggers everywhere.