In defamation case, Virginia blogger subpoenaed for identities of blog readers

By: Sam Bayard at the Citizen Media Law Center:

In perhaps the most blatant misuse of the subpoena power we’ve seen since the subpoena served on Kathleen Seidel of Neurodiversity last March, a lawyer for Thomas Garrett of Virginia has served a patently overbroad subpoena on blogger Waldo Jaquith, who publishes, a community news blog about Charlottesville, Virginia.

Garrett’s lawyer served the subpoena in connection with his defamation lawsuit against The Hook, a weekly newspaper in Charlottesville that also publishes content on its website. Garrett, a chicken farmer and Hollywood publicist (who knew such a combination existed?) sued the newspaper after it published a series of articles covering state criminal proceedings against him (he pled guilty to a “minor count akin to trespassing” according to his complaint in the defamation case). For more information on the lawsuit, see our database entry, Garrett v. The Hook.

Just like the staff here at the Citizen Media Law Project often does when a lawsuit is filed, Jaquith blogged about the Garrett-Hook lawsuit on December 23, 2008. His post, entitled “The Hook Sued For Defamation,” gave background on the lawsuit, quoted Hook editor Hawes Spencer’s comments on it, and explained the elements of a defamation claim. He also made some critical comments about Garrett:

I can sympathize with The Hook in their continued coverage of him. In writing this blog entry this afternoon, it’s impossible to ignore the really sketchy aspects about this guy. Seriously, look at this magazine that he claims to have been on the cover of. This was obviously patched together in Microsoft Paint. It just screams “bad photoshop job.” (The fact that the magazine doesn’t seem to exist doesn’t help any.) Then there’s his PR firm’s website, hosted on Angelfire. Remember them? The free website hosting service from the mid-90s? Used primary to host webpages for middle school girls professing their love for boy bands? That’s where his company’s website is, at the address Though the site claims to be at, that domain is unregistered. In short, Garrett looks like a train wreck in slow motion, and I get that The Hook is just watching and waiting for his big finish.

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