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Henderson rules on blog posts

November 30, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - A common pleas court judge will allow a family suing a blog site to issue subpoenas to find out the identities of anonymous people who made blog posts in connection with a rape investigation involving two Steubenville High School student-athletes.

Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge David Henderson Thursday said attorney Shawn Blake can issue the subpoenas but the people whom Blake is trying to identify have the right to file their own motion to quash the subpoena.

Cody Saltsman and his parents, James and Johna Saltsman, filed the lawsuit in connection with comments made on the blog, operated by Alexandria Goddard of Columbus, in connection with a rape investigation.

The Saltsmans are seeking an injunction to have alleged false and defamatory statements removed from the blog site. The family also is seeking monetary damages and a public apology.

Blake has obtained the Internet protocol addresses of the persons who made the posts on the blog site. Henderson said Blake can issue subpoenas to Comcast Cable, MI-Connction, AT&T, Cincinnati Bell and Verizon to obtain information related to the Internet protocol addresses.

The judge said Goddard, if she knows the identity of the annonymous people, should notify those people of the pending discovery and tell them they have 14 days to file a motion to stop the subpoena and the information being released that will make their identity known. The judge said the Internet providers who will be subpoenaed also should notify their customers of the pending discovery.

Henderson said good cause exists for the discovery to be permitted because there is a substantial risk the evidence in question will be destroyed, deleted or erased.

Goddard hasn't been served with the lawsuit and wasn't in court Monday during a hearing about the information on the computer servers. Goddard was represented by attorney Thomas Haren of Independence during the hearing. Haren refused to tell Henderson where Goddard is located, claiming attorney-client privilege.

Blake has hired private investigators to find Goddard, but they haven't been successful.

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