Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NJMG ordered to identify writer of post

The Bergen County courthouse in Bergen County,...Image via Wikipedia
The Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack.

North Jersey Media Group has been ordered to identify a reader who assumed a pseudonym to comment on a political column.

The motion -- to compel the newspaper publishing company to comply with a subpoena seeking the identity of "Kittykiernan" -- was brought by Alan Marcus. 

Marcus is a prominent public relations man and Republican Party bigwig who filed a defamation suit against "Jane Doe (aka 'Kittykiernan')." NJMG is not a defendant in the case.

Republican Kathleen Donovan, the new Bergen County executive, was sworn in on Saturday at Marcus' Saddle River home. The Record of Woodland Park, a NJMG newspaper, didn't explain why the official swearing in took place at a private home. 

The motion was unopposed by NJMG, according to the Aug. 6 order signed by Superior Court Judge Rachelle L. Harz  in Hackensack. 
If NJMG has identified the reader, it could have a chilling effect on all readers of online news sites and blogs who feel safe commenting under pseudonyms or the ubiquitous "Anonymous."

Marcus filed suit in May, alleging statements made by defendant Kittykiernan on the NJMG Web site were "false and defamatory."

He further alleges the "false statements directly impugned Plaintiff's honesty and integrity, were injurious to his reputation, subjected him to contempt, caused others to lose good will or confidence in him, and placed him in a false light highly offensive to Plaintiff and any reasonable person." 

He is seeking the defendant's name, address, ISP and IP address, as well as unspecified damages.

The suit says Kittykiernan posted a comment online referring to "Alan Marcus" in reaction to a "Political Stile" column by Staff Writer Charles Stile published Feb. 2, 2010, in The Record. It also appeared online at 

Although the column is still available online, Kittykiernan's comment has been removed. Here is the link to the Stile column.

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