Saturday, May 19, 2012

Like it's 1999

1999 is like an eternity ago. Since it is back in the news it really is more a reminder of how history has mostly forgotten (not on this blog I will mention) the whole history of Grant Street '99.   For one view of the whole matter review this old column by Dennis Roddy: Judging Right of Free Speech.

No matter how high profile you think any recent news in the nexus of local politics, the internet, journalism and hyperlocal muckracking has been, the history of Grantstreet99 is more seminal and impactful to this day. What am I talking about?  No bells and whistles for the earlier days of the internet. Still viewable is this April 1999 version of the website known as GrantStreet99. You will get the drift pretty quickly.

The story is not about some lone contrarian voice, nor about any particular accusation highlighted on the site at all...  but the lengths then superior court Judge Orie-Melvin went to silence the web site and its author. Why? She didn't like the criticism.  So the then anonymous webmaster ('blog' was yet to be coined) was sued for defamation in Common Pleas Court... after Orie-Melvin had been denied standing to sue in Virginia.

The litigation of Grantstreet99  would in the end be decided by none other than the ubiquitous Judge Wettick, and eventually backed by the state supreme court, who ruled against Judge Orie-Melvin and protected the anonymity of the GS99 author.

Unverified as best I can tell, but one has claimed the identity of Grantstreet99 incidental to other litigation against Allegheny County.  Just seems like he might be worth interviewing in light of recent developments. 

If you don't think it all that important a little episode, consider the counterfactual and what it would have meant if Orie-Melvin's case had gone the other way? 


Anonymous MH said...

I had all sorts of trouble figuring out where Islay's used to be until I met a retired Pitt employee who explained it carefully.

Saturday, May 19, 2012 9:06:00 PM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sunday, May 20, 2012 3:50:00 PM  

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