Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Subpoenas Withdrawn: Free At Last!

Uptown Update heard some good news tonight from our attorneys at Electronic Frontier Foundation:

The legal team representing Peter Holsten et al. - Johnson Jones Snelling & Gilbert, the guys who filed subpoenas last January asking for the identities of the bloggers and commenters at UU,, Buena Park Neighbors, and Uptown Neighborhood Council - has withdrawn its requests.

EFF, on behalf of the bloggers and message board administrators, recently filed a Motion to Quash the subpoenas. In response, Holsten's attorneys offered to withdraw them with conditions, including that the subpoenas could be refiled at any time, at any whim. EFF, on behalf of its clients, declined, and more motions flew back and forth.

At today's hearing, Johnson Jones offered to withdraw the subpoenas without conditions, and Judge Mary K. Rochford decided the following:

(1) The Defendants will withdraw their subpoenas; and

(2) If the Defendants seek to reissue their subpoenas, they will first have to obtain permission from the court, at which time the previously filed Motion to Quash will be heard.

You can see the final order here, and all documents regarding this case at EFF's website.

While the matter could be reopened, we're advised that it's very unlikely, because that would force the Holsten legal team to address the very substantive First Amendment issues that they avoided by withdrawing the subpoenas. Furthermore, protections are now in place to prevent future subpoenas without the court first giving approval.

As always, Lorraine Swanson and the Lake Effect News are all over this story:

Uptown Update (or, as we're known in legalspeak, "the Anonymous Speakers") is very very grateful for all the support we've received from our readers, from the community, from those who directed us to EFF last winter, and to the wonderful and patient attorneys at EFF who gave us excellent legal representation, and asked for nothing more than our signatures authorizing them to do so. Matt Zimmerman in San Francisco and Charles Mudd of Mudd Law Offices in Chicago, you rock!

We're drinking tonight to celebrate and lifting a few glasses to the First Amendment.... our favorite.


  1. Party on my roof deck. I'm ordering a keg of Guinness and some of Uptown's finest working girls.

    Everyone knows where I live, well almost everyone, stop on by.

    It's my informed opinion that this was nothing more than an act of legal intimidation or machismo. Ultimately, it was a moderate public relations disaster for Holsten and indirectly Shiller.

    From the story it appears Judge Rochford didn't want this PR hot potato to continue. Reading through the legalese it seems she forced the outcome on those fine attorneys representing Holsten.

    Hopefully the attorneys representing the good guys, dats not Holsten,will get a court order for some fees.

  2. Being a fully self actualized human being I don't wish to gloat over this teeny victory.

    So I leave Peter Holsten and his supporters with this.

    There is a reason the First Amendment is the FIRST amendment.

  3. Sweet! Another victory for transparency! Thanks for being a shining example!

  4. Otto,

    thanks for the JPUSA support you amusing palindrome. Head on over to my place. Bring some of those Shiller campaign posters you plastered all over your building last election.

    I'll toss them on the barbie as the Aussies might say.

    You see Otto when passive aggressive, you, meets aggressive aggressive, me, somethings gotta give. It won't be me.

    See ya at the next election, boyo.

    Gawd, you folks really gotta hate the internet.

  5. I am Uptown Update.

    The next time defense counsel has a request they can type it up in an email and send it to like everyone else.

    Welcome to Plebsville Peter.

  6. "I am Uptown Update."


    And you were too were an object of the subpoenas. If you read all the back-and-forth, you see that the true aim of the subpoenas was to unmask the identities of the people leaving comments on the sites.

    Finding out who ran the sites was a little extra bonus that Holsten et al. asked for.

    Gotta love EFF, our Founding Fathers, and the First Amendment.

    Gotta find a new avatar, thanks to them. Never been happier to do so.

  7. First,

    don't forget to donate some extra dolares to "Fix Wilson Yard".

    The link is on the right hand side of the Uptown Update website. Tell 'em Peter Holsten sent ya.


    while this is a victory it strikes me as being akin to the British success at pulling their troops out of Dunkirk. We still have many battles in front of us. I also have a bottle in front of me Which is better than a frontal lobotomy.

    The main battle will be in February 2011 for the aldermanic seat. It's either win then or see TIF money continue to be devoted to $400,000+ low income housing which benefits the builders and investors more than anyone else.

    Need I say the phrase "fish farm"?

    The election is less than 17 months away. My guess is that Shiller will run. It's clear that unless I enter the race, unlikely given my criminal background, that Cappleman is running. Perhaps others will join the fray also.

    So let's keep the pressure on and perhaps in February 2011 a new day will break in Uptown and accountable government will come into being.

    It ain't gonna be easy, but then little worthwhile is.

  8. Score one for Freedom of, can we work on that taxation without representation thing?

  9. Regardless of how you feel about the Wilson Yard - Withdrawing the request for the identities of Uptown Update posters was the right thing to do. Intelligent people can read these boards, consider the source, do their own homework, and form their own conclusions.