WI judge shuts down website over anonymous posting

Andy Mussell of the Oshkosh Northwestern newspaper tells BoingBoing,

Here in Wisconsin, a Fond du Lac County judge has shut down an entire website because of two anonymous 'sexually explicit' postings about the Winnebago County Clerk of Courts.

Snip from report in the Northwestern:

Fond du Lac County Judge Robert Wirtz on Thursday ordered local Web site owner Dennis Payne to cease operations of the bulletin board site, fullofbologna.com, based on the allegations of a libel lawsuit filed by Winnebago County Clerk of Courts Diane Fremgen.

As part of the temporary injunction, Wirtz also prohibited Payne and other defendants listed from operating any similar Web sites until the order is lifted. Failure to abide by the order would be considered contempt and could be punishable with jail time and fines, according to the order.

Sandy Baron, executive director of the New York-based Media Law Resource Center, said injunctions against speech are "beyond rare," and in terms of libel cases, "it's almost unheard of."

Baron Friday said the rarity of such an injunction goes back to the earliest days of constitutional thinking, and suggested that the First Amendment is in the constitution based on its framers' own rebellion against speech restraints. "The Constitution simply doesn't allow courts to prohibit people from speaking," she said.

Link to article.