1/7/2014 8:17:00 AM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - A group of New York Republicans cannot learn the identity of an anonymous blogger named Q-Tip they plan to sue for defamation, a state appeals court ruled.
The case concerns a WordPress.com blog titled Watch Croton, dedicated to the village of Croton on Hudson in Westchester County, N.Y.
A scan of the blog shows that an unnamed "Editor" was credited as the author of postings in the first few months of the blog's Jan. 1, 2010, creation, but the byline "Q-Tip" took over in March. Entries have been nothing short of prolific in the years since.
During a local election campaign in March 2011, Q-Tip posted an article on Watch Croton titled "Would You Buy a Used Car from These Men?"
"They're trying to sell you a bill of goods," he wrote. "Pat Calcutti, Mark Aarons and Keith Douglas think you aren't smart enough to see past the lies and downright criminal actions taken by their backers, the Croton Republican Committee."
Susan Konig and the Croton Republican Committee filed a petition for pre-action disclosure against CSC Holdings LLC and Watch Croton in April 2012. Q-Tip intervened in a separate petition Konig and the committee filed that July against WordPress.com.
A Westchester County Supreme Court judge granted the petitions, which would disclose the identity of Q-Tip so he could be sued for defamation.
The Appellate Division's Second Judicial Department reversed
on Dec. 26.
"Contrary to the Supreme Court's determination, the petitioners failed to allege facts fairly indicating that they have a cause of action alleging defamation based on the two blog posts at issue by Q-Tip," one unsigned opinion states.
"Here, given the context in which the challenged statements are made, on an Internet blog during a hotly contested election, a reasonable reader would have believed that the generalized reference to 'downright criminal actions' in post entitled 'Would You Buy a Used Car From These Men?" was merely conveying Q-Tip's opinion and was not a factual accusation of criminal conduct," the four justices on the appellate panel added.
The Cortlandt Daily Voice reported that Konig and the Republicans decided not to present candidates in the November 2012 because of the "McCarthyite attacks that running for office in this village has engendered."