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New York paper fights website commenter subpoena

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  1. Newsgathering
A New York newspaper is engaged in a battle to quash a grand jury subpoena for the identities of some…

A New York newspaper is engaged in a battle to quash a grand jury subpoena for the identities of some of its website commenters.

Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips last month served The (Chester) Chronicle with a subpoena seeking information about two anonymous posters. The prosecutor’s subpoena came after a string of informal requests from Chester public officials including Mayor Philip Valastro and School Superintendent Helen Ann Livingston, as well as a police officer who showed up at the office, for the same information. When the previous requests were unsuccessful, Livingston prohibited school employees from talking with the newspaper’s reporters and called for a boycott, the paper reported.

The Chronicle, which has not released the details of the subpoena because it concerns a grand jury matter, allows anonymous posting so that members of the community may "comment and share their news and views without fear of retribution,” Publisher Jeanne Straus said.