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The Star asks Supreme Court to review order to name online commenter

December 18, 2012

Editor's note: This story has been corrected regarding action taken by the Court of Appeals.

The Indianapolis Star has asked the Indiana Supreme Court to hear its appeal of an order that it identify an anonymous commenter who posted messages on its website that became part of a defamation suit.

A divided panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals last week rejected The Star’s petition for an emergency rehearing in Jeffrey M. Miller, et al. v. Junior Achievement, et al., 49A02-1211-PL-898. The Star on Monday petitioned the Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction.

After granting an emergency stay of a Marion Superior Court order that The Star name an online commenter, an appellate panel heard oral arguments last month before dismissing the appeal for lack of jurisdiction in a 2-1 decision.

At the center of the appeal is whether The Star must reveal the identity of a commenter whose screen name on Indystar.com was DownWithTheColts. Jeffrey Miller, former CEO of Junior Achievement of Indiana, sued multiple parties for defamation and sought to add people, including DownWithTheColts, who made anonymous comments on news organization websites that ran stories about Miller and JA.

Presiding COA Judge Edward Najam and Judge Elaine Brown dismissed the appeal and rejected The Star’s request for an emergency rehearing before the appeals court. Judge Rudy Pyle III dissented in both instances.

There was no immediate indication Tuesday whether the Supreme Court would intervene.

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