Ithaca, N.Y. — Ithaca’s attorneys have issued a subpoena for Craigslist records in their fight against a former police officer’s long-running lawsuit against the city, according to federal court documents.

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Christopher Miller, who has been waging a legal battle against Ithaca for several years, has claimed he was discriminated against by the city and Ithaca Police Department because he is white. He sued for $19 million.

In 2012, a federal jury awarded Miller $2 million. That decision was later thrown out by a judge, and legal motions in the case have continued.

A settlement conference was held in late August 2014, but “after lengthy discussions, this case is unable to be resolved at this time,” according to court records.

As the legal wrangling now nears its fifth year, attorneys for Ithaca have issued a subpoena for records of more than two dozen anonymous Craigslist postings.

The Ithaca attorneys ask for the IP address, header, serve log and “any other information kept” by Craigslist — which hosts anonymous message boards — in connection with the posts.

Read background on the case here.

Delivered on Nov. 1, the subpoena requests Craigslist posts primarily from 2014, as well as seven from 2012.

The most recent record subpoenaed — by local attorney Paul Wagner, who is representing the city — is from August 2014.

Objection

Miller’s attorney, AJ Bosman, strongly objected to the the subpoena.

In a Nov. 3 court filing, Bosman asked Judge David E. Peebles to “quash” it.

She makes several points in arguing the Craigslist postings — which, she says, may or may not have been posted by Miller — should not be subject to subpoena:

1 — First Amendment rights

“The speech is purely expressive and is thus entitled to heightened First Amendment protections,” Bosman writes on Miller’s behalf.

In arguing for Miller’s First Amendment rights, Bosman pointed to the following five factors that she says serve the legal basis for determining f anonymous Internet speech deserves First Amendment protection:

“(1) the nature of the speech of the anonymous internet user;

(2) the nature and strength of the claims or defenses of the party seeking the discovery; (3) the importance of the identifying information to such claims and defenses;

(4) the availability of the other sources of information;

(5) the conduct and relationship of the parties and subpoenaed party.”

Bosman argues that the first criteria is unknown, and says that Ithaca’s attorneys have not provided “any information concerning the postings which they seek to discover.”

2 — Miller not proven to be connected to Craigslist postings

In arguing that the postings are subject to Constitutional protection, Bosman says it’s not even known if former officer Miller was involved.

“Mr. Miller has not been shown to be involved in any postings which were made to Craigslist,” Bosman said.

3 — The DA’s office has the records?

Bosman calls for the Craigslist records to be obtained through the Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office, which she said already investigated the Craigslist postings.

4 — Not relevant

Bosman also says that the postings are not relevant to the case. She says this while also noting that what’s in the postings is unknown and that her client may not have written them.


The case in favor of issuing the subpoena has not been spelled out in court documents. A call to Wagner was not immediately returned, but we’ll update this story if it is.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.