Judge Orders Newspaper to Name Online Commenters

Defense lawyers think they were prosecutors trying to sway case

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 22, 2014 5:31 PM CST

(Newser) – A judge in New Orleans has given the Times-Picayune website 10 days to turn over the identities of two online commenters, reports Politico. The judge agreed to the request by the lawyer for Stacey Jackson, former head of the New Orleans Affordable Homeownership program who is facing federal charges of corruption. Jackson's legal team apparently thinks the anonymous commenters were federal attorneys who posted comments about Jackson and her case on NOLA.com, possibly to pressure suspects into cooperating with them, reports AP.

It's not clear whether the Times-Picayune will comply, but a news story in the paper about the judge's ruling suggests the policy is a little squishy: "It is the news organization's usual policy to keep such information private to the extent possible." If this rings a bell, it's because there's a precedent in New Orleans. US Attorney Jim Letten had to resign in 2012 after two deputies admitted that they posted comments at the site about cases. In the most high-profile example, five officers convicted in deadly bridge shootings after Hurricane Katrina were granted a new trial because of the "prosecutorial misconduct."

  (Shutterstock)
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