When I wrote this earlier post about a recent Maryland Court of Appeals ruling protecting anonymous commenter’s on blogs I didn’t realize there was a local connection. Though the case that prompted the ruling was based on a incident at a Dunkin Donuts restaurant in Centreville, Md, the majority opinion in the case was rendered by Judge Lynne Battaglia, a Columbia resident.
In his column in today’s Washington Post, Marc Fisher delved a little deeper in the ramifications of this ruling and he shared Judge Battaglias opinion.
“…an aggrieved party first must go on the message board to let the anonymous commenter know that the slammee is ticked off and seeks justice. Then the target of the comment must identify the offending statements and persuade the court that the statements constitute defamation. Only then does the court weigh the claim of defamation against the commenter's First Amendment right to speak his mind.”
Marc generally agreed with Judge Battaglia. “Our system of protecting free speech depends on the marketplace of ideas to generate its own self-correcting mechanisms.”
I met Judge Battaglia when I lived in the Town Center neighborhood of Vantage Point. We used to regularly run into each other during our morning and evening dog walks in the neighborhood before I moved to Ellicott City.
Well done Judge.