Remember the lawsuit filed by two female Yale Law School students over various allegedly defamatory and threatening comments posted about them on AutoAdmit.com? The plaintiffs are in the process of amending their complaint, and they’ve sought extra time in which to do so. From a tipster:
[T]he third motion for an extension of time was requested October 4, and it asked for 30 days. I can’t imagine them going to a fourth motion, so the deadline should be fast approaching around this weekend.
That said… it appears from the first couple of motions they didn’t have any real leads and were still investigating, and now they may have a real lead.
So this is the 21st century? Where courts award punitive damages for offensive words and pictures? Isn’t “the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe” exactly what we always used to say people had to put up with in a free country? Man, that was so 20th century!
3. Suing Autodmit [Instapundit]
Professor Glenn Reynolds — who kindly links to our post, by the way — largely agrees with Professor Althouse. He sarcastically observes: “Stuff that offends dumb hicks in the heartland is constitutionally protected. Stuff that offends Yale Law Students must be stamped out!”
More links, after the jump.
Anthony Ciolli, the former Chief Education Director of the AutoAdmit.com website, and various posters on that message board have been sued. A civil action has been filed against them in federal district court in Connecticut.
The claims made against defendants are as follows: copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. § 501; appropriation of another’s name or likeness; unreasonable publicity given to another’s life; publicity that places another in a false light before the public; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent infliction of emotional distress; and defamation.
For more details, check out this thread at AutoAdmit.com. There was some debate over at AutoAdmit concerning the authenticity of the posting. But we emailed David Rosen, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case, and he confirmed:
We did post something giving notice of a lawsuit. I’m not available for comment for the moment. You can check with Dorothy McLaughlin at Keker & Van Nest — they are lead counsel.
We have contacted Dorothy McLaughlin Sachs and will let you know when we hear back from her.
Our speculation is that the “Doe I” and “Doe II” plaintiffs are two of the individuals interviewed in this Washington Post article about AutoAdmit. The individual attacked on AutoAdmit.com who figures most prominently in the Post article is a female Yale Law School student. Plaintiffs’ counsel, David Rosen, is an alumnus of Yale Law School who also teaches at YLS.
This is a developing story. We’ll bring you more information as soon as we have it. If someone might be able to send us a copy of the summons and complaint, we’d be most grateful. Thanks. Update: The WSJ Law Blog has a detailed post, including lots of additional information, over here.
For those of you who are curious, the full text of the AutoAdmit.com posting appears after the jump.
(Gavel bang: commenters.) Notice of lawsuit pending vs. certain AutoAdmit posters [AutoAdmit.com / Xoxohth] Students File Suit Against AutoAdmit Director, Others [WSJ Law Blog] Harsh Words Die Hard on the Web [Washington Post] David N. Rosen bio [Yale Law School] David Rosen & Associates [Best Lawyers in America]
Some very interesting news, reported by Amir Efrati over at the WSJ Law Blog:
The Law Blog has learned that law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge rescinded its job offer to Anthony Ciolli, the 3L at Penn Law who resigned as “Chief Education Director” of AutoAdmit last month. H[e] resigned in the wake of a WaPo exposé on how the site in part served as a platform for attacks and defamatory remarks about female law students, among others (see our earlier post here).
Charles DeWitt (pictured, left), a managing partner at Edwards Angell’s Boston office, where Ciolli was slated to be a litigation associate, told the Law Blog: “He worked for us last summer. He’s not going to work for us in the fall.”
Ciolli took time from working on final exams to talk to the Law Blog. “Three years of legal education has been wasted because of an unmoderated message board,” he said, adding, “The timing is absolutely horrible.” The 23-year-old, who contributes to First Movers, a blog written by law students and graduates, added that “I don’t know what I’m going to do next.”
You can read the whole post, which recounts the fascinating correspondence between DeWitt and Ciolli (pictured at right), over here.
Commentary from Professor Dave Hoffman, who has written extensively about AutoAdmit / Xoxohth in the past, appears at Concurring Opinions.
What do we think? Eh, we generally steer clear of this subject. What do YOU think?
(In this poll, which we admit is vaguely worded, you can substitute “fair” or “appropriate” in the place of “justified,” if you wish. We’re just trying to get a general sense of how many of you agree, and how many of you disagree, with what Edwards Angell did.)
It has been a week since the distressing events involving a Boalt student’s threat —a hoax — against the community at Hastings College of the Law. I am writing to let you know that all our actions following the incident have been taken with the intention of securing the safety and well-being of our community and that at Hastings, while respecting the procedural rights of the student.
On Wednesday, April 25, 2007, the Law School filed a complaint with the U.C. Berkeley Judicial Affairs Office against the law student who claimed responsibility for posting the threat on a website. We, the administrative leadership of Boalt, believe that the student’s action is clearly in violation of a number of regulations detailed in the Student Code of Conduct. The case will be adjudicated by Judicial Affairs according to campus regulations. Those regulations prohibit us from disclosing the name of the student against whom we are proceeding.
Based on the facts as we understand them today, we have recommended expulsion. This is based not only on the intrinsic wrongfulness of the act itself, but also the disruption, turmoil and emotional toll on the Hastings community and, to a more limited extent, the Boalt community as well. I have received ample evidence of this through a great many emails, some of them painful to read.
This incident has once again confirmed for me the strength and qualities of the Boalt community. Even in this challenging circumstance, you have engaged in thoughtful and productive discussions. We should all take some pride in this, imperfect though we are.
Christopher Edley, Jr.
Professor of Law and Dean
Does the punishment fit the crime here? Judging by some of the comments to this thread, some readers think expulsion would be an overreaction. Pre-Virginia Tech, what kind of behavior would get you expelled from law school?
UC Hastings officials were alerted on Wednesday afternoon of a blog post threatening a copycat murder-suicide in reference to the events at Virginia Polytechnic Institute Monday, said UC Hastings spokesperson Lorri Ungaretti.
“The threat did not specifically reference it, but it felt clear that that was what it was,” she said.
UC Hastings officials contacted the San Francisco Police Department as well as the San Francisco branch of the FBI, and cancelled classes for the rest of the day, Ungaretti said.
“The FBI investigated and found it was a student at Boalt and that it was a hoax,” she said. “Classes resumed as usual (on Thursday).”
Actually, make that the “Very Bad Ideas” file.
Our personal preference is to ignore such people and things (which is what we’ve been doing until now). But several of you have emailed us about thisincident, which has been covered in the MSM; so interest in it is obviously high.
Here’s what one source had to say:
As you may know, Hastings College of Law was evacuated [on Wednesday] as a result of an asinine post on autoadmit threatening Virginia Tech like violence, which, it turns out, was posted by a Boalt 1L. It turned out to be a tasteless joke, but the problems it has created seem to be never ending, including an ID checkpoint in front of the campus, the cancellation of numerous events including a journal symposium, and now, unacceptably, our bi-monthly ration of free beer and the Law Revue that was to follow it.
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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