Subpoena-ville: Blogger Jaquith served in publicist's case
Waldo Jaquith, the creator of Charlottesville's longstanding news blog, cvillenews.com, was subpoenaed last week by the man suing the Hook.
Publicist and chicken farmer Tommy Garrett demands that Jaquith provide any communications that mention Garrett, a person Jaquith says he never heard of until Garrett filed $10.7 million defamation suit against the Hook for its coverage of 15 forgery counts filed against Garrett in Buckingham County.
In a plea agreement in April, the publicist was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of entering the property of another with the intention of damaging it and ordered to pay $3,500 in restitution. Through attorneys, Garrett has maintained his innocence, and the 15 felony counts were dismissed.
In what Jaquith calls "an incredibly overbroad" subpoena, Garrett demands the IP addresses of those who commented on Jaquith's December 23 account of the lawsuit against the Hook, as well as the IP addresses of viewers of the blog post, which drew 81 comments.
According to cvillenews.com, Jaquith will act as his own attorney.
"The requested information appears to be variously irrelevant, unnecessary to the case, confidential, and privileged," says Jaquith on his blog.
This isn't the first time Jaquith has been involved in constitutional issues. As a high school student in the 1990s, Jaquith, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, sued Charlottesville for its curfew, in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The ACLU represented him more successfully in 2000 in quashing a subpoena from Mattel.
Jaquith's history of defending freedoms also includes serving on a board at the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression that installed the Free Speech monument on the Downtown Mall.
In the mid-1990s, Jaquith co-created the award-winning Dave Matthews Band fan website, nancies.org. More recently, he built Richmond Sunlight, which tracks all General Assembly legislation. And in 2002 at age 23, he ran for City Council–- and came within four votes of getting nominated.
Garrett's Daleville attorney James Creekmore did not return a phone call seeking comment, but instead sent a letter to the Hook's attorney warning the newsroom to cease all contact with him and his client.
"We will be sure that when we amend our suit," Creekmore writes, "all articles and authors subsequent to the ones on which we have sued will be incorporated when and where possible."
Creekmore has already subpoenaed Hook editor Hawes Spencer and this reporter for information surrounding two articles about the lawsuit, as well as the IP addresses of those posting comments or even reading–- yes, reading!–- "Senior's Star: Buckingham publicist sues Hook" on December 22 and a January 6 story about Garrett threatening to sue an Australian blogger, "Slap happy? After Hook suit, man rattles another saber".
"I’d chalked up Garrett as a harmless kook," writes Jaquith on cvillenews.com. "But my perspective is now considerably less charitable."