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Justices take Star appeal regarding naming of online commenter

May 6, 2013

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether the Indianapolis Star must reveal the identity of an online commenter in a long-running defamation case filed by a former executive of a nonprofit organization.

The justices granted transfer in Indiana Newspapers, Inc., d/b/a The Indianapolis Star v. Jeffrey M. Miller, et al., 49S02-1305-PL-311. A divided Court of Appeals in a January rehearing affirmed its 2012 order in favor of Jeffrey Miller, requiring the Star to reveal the identity of online comment posters.

Marion Superior Judge S.K. Reid ordered that the Star disclose to Miller, former CEO of Junior Achievement of Indiana, the identity of a commenter on its website whose screen name was DownWithTheColts, and the Star appealed.

Miller 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 J.A. Miller’s attorney claimed the Star was in contempt of an order from the Court of Appeals as it continued to shield the commenter’s identity.

Justices also granted transfer in Christopher Smith v. State of Indiana,18S02-1304-CR-297, a case involving a former Muncie Central High School principal. A divided Court of Appeals in January ruled  that Smith’s Class B misdemeanor conviction for failure to immediately report child abuse or neglect should be tossed out.

Justices denied transfer in the 19 other cases reviewed during the week ending May 3. The court’s transfer depositions may be viewed here.

 

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