Federal Court Extras (you know, extra fun)

But We Don't Want to Pay Our Legal Fees

So this one time, this group of guys filed a federal lawsuit.  It turned into a really big case.  Then they lost the case.  Not because there was a trial, and then a jury or a judge decided against them.  No.  These guys lost the case because that was how they negotiated it.  So after they agreed that they would lose in a "settlement" that resulted in a "consent order", they asked for someone else to pay their legal bills.  They weren't sure who should pay their legal bills, but they thought it should be someone besides them.  Then, almost a year later, the judge said "hell to the nah!" (Dkt. No. 415).

Here's where those guys begged for someone else to pay their legal fees (Dkt. No. 264).  Then these other guys said "wait, what? but you guys lost." (Dkt. No. 272).  And so did these guys (Dkt. No. 265), these guys (Dkt. No. 273), these guys (Dkt. No. 274), and these guys (Dkt. No. 277).  These last guys are the best, because it turns out that these last guys are the same as the guys asking that their fees be paid.  Hilarious.  Hilarious and ridiculous.  Ok, mostly ridiculous.  So in the midst of all of those papers, the original guys begging for public money for the case that they lost, did try to clarify their request (Dkt. No. 271).  Then one last group of other guys said "not cool" (Dkt. No. 278).  And then nothing happened for a year.  Except for a lot of other stuff that was more important.

But There's a Bigger Conspiracy Here - And It Involves People Who Anonymously Comment on Online News Articles

As of November 3, 2012, still waiting on a ruling on the Commercial Appeal's objection to the County Commission's subpoena for the real names and contact information for its anonymous commenters.  I haven't found the original documents, but I'm sure someone will post the ruling once it has been made.  My understanding is that there's a "theory of the case" that sees a link between the anonymous online commenters and the state legislature - an evil link that would show a racist intent behind the municipal school district movement.

In the instance that such a link were proven - you know, after the local newspaper of record was compelled to turn over the information - that would be one hell of a conspiracy.  A nice little conspiracy tied up in a bow.  Just not sure I buy it.  I think that the link between the state legislature and the intent behind the municipal school district movement was done in the usual way - on blackberries and over beers (or diet cokes, as the case may be).

But maybe uncovering the identities of some of the anonymous online commenters would embarass some folks that should be embarassed.  I'm all for that.

The subpoena is related to discovery in the second trial, currently scheduled for January 2013.  So there should be a ruling soon.

                                                  November 9, 2012 Update:

Zach McMillin reports that the County Commission's attorneys at Baker Donelson have requested that Judge Mays direct compliance with the subpoena within five days.  Deadlines for dispositive motions are imminent, and if the information is to be used at trial, then the clock is ticking for being able to get through the response to the subpoena to get to the useful information (to the extent there is any).

Mr. McMillin summarizes the County Commission's argument:  "The Commission is arguing that the information could potentially help it prove, in a case to be heard at trial on Jan. 3, that the passage of laws allowing the statewide ban on new municipal school districts in suburban Shelby County municipalities "was motivated, at least in part, by an intent to achieve ... disparate racial impact."
Harvesting some comments and the identifying information attached to some website commenters, the Commission argues, may help them prove the laws were passed in part out of racial motivations to force 'the re-segregation of the schools in Shelby County.'"

Background:  The Commercial Appeal reported that it received a subpoena for identifying information about commenters on its articles relating to the surrender of the charter and the merger.  Some of the County Commissioners were  shocked, SHOCKED I tell you!  The County Commission the voted to proceed with the subpoena.  The Commercial Appeal objected to the subpoena.

                                                  November 16, 2012 Update:

Zach McMillin reports that United States District Judge has sustained the objection to the subpoena, and ordered that the Commercial Appeal will not be required to disclose identifying information about its commenters.  Mr. McMillin quotes Judge Mays' decision:  "The information sought by the Commission is not relevant to the underlying issue to be decided and is not an appropriate subject of discovery in this case."

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