No help from appeals court for bloggers trying to protect identities

By David Yates | May 4, 2010

Philip Klein

A pair of bloggers fighting to keep their identities hidden from political commentator Philip Klein received no help from the Ninth District Court of Appeals on April 27, as justices denied their petition for writ of mandamus.

Klein, who writes a blog on his website The Southeast Texas Political Review, sued two other local bloggers, known only as John Does 1 and 2, alleging they defamed and harassed him through their websites.

Hoping to uncover their identities, Klein named Google as a defendant in his suit and subpoenaed the popular Internet company.

In order to stop him, the bloggers filed a motion to quash Kleins' subpoena duces tecum, but their motion was denied Jan. 29 by Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District.

The Does appealed four months later, arguing Judge Floyd "abused his discretion when he disregarded" several aspects of Texas Civil Law by allowing Klein to take the depositions of Google.

"Mandamus will issue only to correct a clear abuse of discretion or violation of a duty imposed by law when that abuse cannot be remedied by appeal," justices wrote in their per curiam opinion.

"After reviewing the mandamus record and petition, we conclude that the (Does) have not demonstrated a clear abuse of discretion by the trial court. Accordingly, we deny (their) motion for emergency stay, and we deny the petition for writ of mandamus."

To keep from being forced to reveal the bloggers' identities, Google filed a motion to quash and a motion for a protective order March 3.

A hearing on the matter has been slated for May 14.

Case background

Klein and his companies, PRK Enterprises and Klein Investments, sued the Operation Kleinwatch and Sam the Eagle blogs, as well as Google and its subsidiary,, on Aug. 26 in Jefferson County District Court.

The Does contribute to the website, which is "devoted chiefly to critizing Philip Klein," court papers say.

In his suit, Klein claims Operation Kleinwatch and Sam the Eagle have engaged in a pattern of libel and defamation, invasion of privacy and use of copyrighted images.

"These Web sites host significant, false information and invade the privacy of Petitioners throughout the Web site," the suit states. "The purpose of these Web sites is to disparage, harass and cause injury to these Petitioners, as well as Mr. Philip Klein personally."

Some of the articles appearing on Operation Kleinwatch refer to lawsuits in which Klein is allegedly involved, court papers say.

"The Web site Operation Kleinwatch, contains false information on legal proceedings that do not involve either Mr. Klein individually or the Petitioners, falsely represent that judgments have been taken against the Petitioners and/or Mr. Klein individually, falsely identify a bankruptcy proceeding, also identify lawsuits that do not involve Petitioners and/or Mr. Klein individually," the suit states.

Klein is represented by Beaumont attorney John Morgan.

The Does are represented by attorney Jeffrey L. Dorrell.

Appeals case No. 09-10-00189-CV
Jefferson County District Court case No. E184-784

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