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Paper fights subpoena for online commenters' identities

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  1. Protecting Sources and Materials
Lawyers for a Montana State University professor are trying to force the Bozeman Daily Chronicle to hand over notes related to its…

Lawyers for a Montana State University professor are trying to force the Bozeman Daily Chronicle to hand over notes related to its reporting on her discrimination lawsuit against the school, and the identities of commenters who wrote on its Web site, the paper reports.

In a sweeping subpoena now under review by a judge presiding over her case, professor Aleksandra Vinogradov seeks to show that one of the 12 jurors who sided against her at trial in April posted comments about her on the Daily Chronicle‘s Web site. The paper is fighting the subpoena, which Gallatin District Judge Holly Brown has already quashed once.

But Brown also apparently allowed Vinogradov’s attorneys to renew their request as they seek a new trial. Daily Chronicle attorney Mike Meloy said since Montana’s shield law is absolute, he doesn’t see much room for debate on the matter: "(Vinogradov’s attorneys) claim that the privilege only relates to sources; it doesn’t relate to information. And of course it’s plain on its face (the law) does — it relates to all information gathered."