Ithaca, N.Y. — Ithaca’s attorneys said in court documents released Monday that they issued a subpoena for a former cop’s anonymous Craigslist postings to learn more about his mental state.
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Former officer Christopher Miller has been waging a legal battle against Ithaca for several years, claiming he was discriminated against by the city and Ithaca Police Department because he is white. He sued for $19 million.
In a document submitted Monday to the courts, the city’s attorneys said more than two dozen anonymous Craigslist postings thought to have been written by Miller are relevant to the case.
“The Plaintiff has put his current mental state at issue, and Defendants are therefore entitled to discover information about his current mental state, including information that he voluntarily posted on the internet,” writes Paul Wagner, the lawyer for the city.
AJ Bosman, Miller’s attorney, has strongly opposed the subpoena for the Craigslist records.
“The speech is purely expressive and is thus entitled to heightened First Amendment protections,” Bosman said.
“Mr. Miller has not been shown to be involved in any postings which were made to Craigslist.”
But Wagner said First Amendment issues are not relevant to the Craigslist postings.
“These abhorrent and defamatory postings, if indeed posted by the Plaintiff, are not entitled to any First Amendment protection,” Wagner said.
Wagner said that this is because the postings make factual allegations against members of the Ithaca Police Department.
“Many of the postings whose authorship is sought accuse individual defendants in this
case of illegal activity. Some of these are similar to the allegations Plaintiff made against
members of the Ithaca Police Department in his (earlier) charges, but as unsolicited internet postings, do not enjoy any privilege, limited or absolute,” Wagner writes.
“What’s more, they are clearly defamatory.”
Miller’s attorney had also said that the records had been investigated by the Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office.
Wagner, writing for the city, says this is untrue.
“The undersigned never received any documents from the DA’s office, but rather learned through the Ithaca Police Department that an investigation had been conducted by the DA’s office and that a number of prior anonymous Craigslist posts, similar to the ones at issue here, had been traced as originating from the Plaintiff’s home address,” he writes. “Thus, there are no documents to provide.”
The case is scheduled to go to a new trial in December.