Protecting the Free Speech and Press Rights of Bloggers

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ACLU-TN Cooperating Attorneys: Bruce Kramer, Borod & Kramer, P.C.; ACLU First Amendment Working Group (Direct Representation)

Plaintiffs: Thaddeus Matthews

Defendants: City of Memphis

Thaddeus Matthews is a Memphis blogger whose blog is critical of the Memphis Police Department (MPD) and oftentimes contains internal investigative information.

After Matthews was pressured by local law enforcement to reveal the identity of his sources, he contacted ACLU-TN for assistance in protecting his free speech rights and in asserting the Tennessee Press Shield Law. This law protects journalists from attempts by the government to coerce information out of them.

On Matthews’ behalf, ACLU-TN intervened in a lawsuit that had been filed by MPD. MPD had tried to ascertain the identity of unknown bloggers who ran another website critical of the police department, similar to Matthews’. MPD had filed a lawsuit and then had it sealed, while simultaneously moving to subpoena the identity of the other bloggers. Matthews had reason to believe that the sealed suit involved efforts to harass him and discover his sources, so ACLU-TN moved to intervene in the related litigation to unseal the documents in order to protect his sources.

Ultimately, the documents were unsealed in response to our motion. ACLU-TN notified MPD that Matthews was represented by counsel and would vigorously fight any attempt to discover his sources. Eventually MPD backed down and ceased their harassment of Mr. Matthews.

Related Documents

Legal Documents

Motion to Intervene and Unseal Record (July 25, 2008)