AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Supreme Court will decide whether to unmask an anonymous blogger who slammed an Ohio-based software company and its CEO online.
The blogger, known only by his pseudonym "Trooper," drew the ire of the company Reynolds & Reynolds for writing a blog starting in 2007 that called Reynolds' chairman and CEO a thief and one of its products "crap," the Austin American-Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/1fPIdFz ).
Reynolds sued in 2010 to force Google, which ran the online home for Trooper's blog, to turn over the blogger's name. The company argued that the blogger was a Reynolds & Reynolds employee and deserved to be targeted for disciplinary action, though the blogger's lawyer has denied that he worked for Reynolds. A Houston judge and a state appeals court sided with Reynolds.
Supreme Court justices earlier this month heard from attorneys for both Reynolds & Reynolds and "Trooper." Chief Justice Nathan Hecht questioned whether Texas courts were being employed as an investigative agency, particularly since the company is based in Ohio and the blogger says he lives in Dayton, Ohio.
Reynolds said it sued in Houston because its CEO, Robert Brockman, owned a home in the city and the company has its largest Texas office there.
"Shouldn't Texas be concerned that its courts can be used to investigate any cause of action that could be brought anywhere in the United States?" Hecht said. "Why should Texas courts just be sort of the State Bureau of Investigation?"
Grant Harvey, Reynolds' attorney, argued that judges can decide whether to take a case or not on their own. Harvey also argued "Trooper" forfeited anonymity because he was clearly an employee based on his knowledge of the company, despite his claims to the contrary.
"Let's be candid about what's going on here," Harvey said in court. "There is one thing we know about the Trooper in this courtroom: He's a liar."
But Shelly Skeen, the blogger's attorney, said courts in Texas couldn't force him to be identified because they lacked "personal jurisdiction" over him and said Reynolds filed the suit incorrectly.
"You go to the place where the person is," Skeen said. "They know they didn't file this here in this court in good faith."
The court could rule any time in the case.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com