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Appeals court to hear Star appeal on identifying online commenter

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has blocked a court order requiring The Indianapolis Star to disclose the name of an online commenter and will hear further arguments on the matter Tuesday morning.

The court on Friday granted The Star’s request for a stay of a court order in Jeffrey M. Miller, et al. v. Junior Achievement, et al., 49A02-1211-PL-898, that would have required the newspaper to reveal the name of an anonymous online commenter by that day, according to COA spokesman Martin DeAgostino.

Jeffrey Miller, former CEO of Junior Achievement of Indiana, sued multiple parties for defamation and sought to add people who made anonymous comments on news organization websites that ran stories about Miller and Junior Achievement.

The Court of Appeals in February reversed Marion Superior Judge S.K. Reid, who issued an order in 2011 that the news outlets must identify people who posted comments on their websites. The Star appealed whether it had to provide Miller information to help him identify an anonymous commenter. The appellate court ordered the trial court to apply a modified version of the Dendrite test, which comes from New Jersey, under both the federal and state constitutions to determine if Miller satisfied the requirements for obtaining the commenter’s identity.

The trial court again ordered the newspaper to disclose the commenter's identity in October.

Tuesday’s hearing will be at 11 a.m. in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom.

According to the order issuing the temporary stay and setting the hearing, “In addition to any other issues, the court will expect the parties to address whether the court has jurisdiction to consider the trial court’s discovery order.”

DeAgostino said Judges Elaine Brown, Edward Najam and Rudolph Pyle III will hear Tuesday's appeal.

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