Tag Archives: comments

Judge Rejects Subpoena of Newspaper’s Records of Website Commenters

The Commercial Appeal will not be forced to release comments and identifying information about those who commented on stories related to the public controversies over the reorganization of Shelby County’s public schools, the newspaper reports.
U.S. Dist. Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays issued a ruling Thursday night rejecting the Shelby County Commission’s motion to compel The Commercial Appeal to release that information. The commission’s lawyers from the firm Baker Donelson had filed a motion last week asking the judge to force The Commercial Appeal to comply with a July subpoena request asking for the identities of all online commenters to 45 stories that ran between Nov. 19, 2010, and July 12, 2012.
In denying the motion, Mays wrote that the information would not be relevant to the case.
“The Commission’s claim that the information it seeks concerning the opinions of the general readership of The Commercial Appeal is relevant to determining whether racial considerations were a motivating factor in the Tennessee General Assembly’s decision to enact the Municipal School Acts is not well taken,” the judge ruled.
“The information sought by the Commission is not relevant to the underlying issue to be decided and is not an appropriate subject of discovery in this case.”
The commission claimed that harvesting some comments and identifying information about the commenters could help them prove that new state laws enabling new municipal school districts in suburban Shelby County were motivated at least in part by racially discriminatory intent
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TN Voter Quotes From Around the State

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Voters who cast ballots Tuesday or during Tennessee’s 14-day early voting period talk about their selections and the general election.
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The top race on the ticket, the contest for president between President Barack Obama, the Democrat, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, helped send Tennessee voters to the polls even though the race wasn’t close in this state.
— Collierville financial adviser Kevin Baltier cast his ballot Tuesday for Romney, saying Obama’s strategy to levy more taxes on high-income people would stifle job creation. Baltier said Romney’s economic plan would create an environment where people “would not be looked down upon for their success.”
— University of Tennessee English professor Nancy Henry, 47, said in Knoxville that the issues that drove her vote for Obama weren’t economic. “Environmental policy is very important to me. Education is really important to me,” Henry said. “Yes, the economy, but frankly, I live in a pretty prosperous town in a pretty prosperous part of town, so I don’t feel like I have been worse off than I was four years ago.”

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On the Shelby Commission Subpeona ‘Fishing Expedition’

Attorneys for The Commercial Appeal said Thursday the law firm representing the Shelby County Commission has run afoul of the First Amendment, two federal statutes, the Tennessee reporter’s shield law and “just plain good sense” in a subpoena asking for the identities of commenters on stories about planned suburban school districts.
Memphis attorney Lucian Pera and Washington attorney Paul Alan Levy, a member of the Public Citizen Litigation Group, asked in a letter to the Baker Donelson law firm that it withdraw the subpoena request. The request was filed in federal court July 25, asking for the identities of all online commenters to 45 stories that ran between Nov. 19, 2010, and July 12, 2012.
In the letter, the newspaper attorneys said those stories produced more than 9,000 comments on The Commercial Appeal’s website and included stories that ran after legislation already was passed in the Tennessee legislature to authorize referendums on whether to set up independent school districts in six municipalities.

Meanwhile, TNReport says Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is not happy with a Shelby subpoena for legislator email:
Sen. Mark Norris says he will comply with the Shelby County Commission’s requests for all correspondence dealing with the controversial Memphis-Shelby schools merger. But the Senate majority leader and chief architect of legislation dictating rules for combining the school systems thinks the demand is being made principally in the spirit of hassling him and other lawmakers.
“It is a major fishing expedition, but you know, knock themselves out. We’ll give them what we have,” said Norris, a Republican from Collierville, told TNReport this week.
Lawyers for the Shelby County Commission are asking the General Assembly to fork over any communication related to laws dictating rules for the merger between the two school systems as they assemble a case in court to block six suburbs from beginning their own school systems.
The commission is asking for documents dating back as far as 2010 relating to three laws dictating rules for the merger, namely SB25, SB1923 and SB2908.

A Comment on Comments (and spam)

In recent weeks, spam comments have been posted on the blog – mostly on posts that are months old; even years old in several cases – by the hundreds. This flood led, first, to changing some settings so that, as I understand things, it also had the effect of making more difficult, if not impossible, the posting of comments by regular folks.
Then, regretfully, it led last week to a full blocking of all comments. That ended today.
Instead, starting now, comments should be easy to file, but they won’t post until I click on each one. Things are set up so that I get an email each time a comment is posted.
With the spammers, I had to go through and delete each one because they were already on the blog. On a heavy spammer day, I would occasionally spend the better part of an hour deleting spam comments.
With this new setup, a comment won’t be posted until I click to designate it as non-spam. In other words, it’s the reverse of before. I have to click on the valid comments; do nothing on the spam.
I hope this isn’t too much of an inconvenience at your end. Your comments are very welcome, adding perspective and liveliness to posting that otherwise, I confess, may be a bit on the bland side.
Note: If you want to see what spam comments look like, a couple of recent ones are posted below.

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