Oberlin College subpoenas legal blogger for communications with source

November 30, 2018

On June 7, 2018 attorneys for Oberlin College filed a subpoena in New York state, seeking communications between the blog Legal Insurrection and attorneys for Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio.

Legal Insurrection has extensively covered a defamation lawsuit that Gibson’s Bakery filed against Oberlin College on November 7, 2017. The 8 count defamation suit seeks more than $200,000 in damages over accusations of racial profiling and discrimination which the bakery claims caused irreparable damage to their business. 

“Oberlin College’s theory behind the demand for journalist communications with Gibson’s counsel was that Gibson’s counsel somehow created the damages to Gibson’s reputation that are at issue in the lawsuit by communicating with the media,” William Jacobson, the author of Legal Insurrection, wrote in a post about the subpoena.

Oberlin initially attempted to subpoena Gibson’s Bakery for communication records. But after an Ohio court denied that subpoena on April 18, 2018, attorneys for Oberlin College brought a subpoena against WAJ Media LLC, which operates as Legal Insurrection and is based in Ithaca, NY.

The subpoena was withdrawn on July 18, after Legal Insurrection filed a motion to quash the subpoena citing New York’s press shield law.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]

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Oberlin College subpoenas local newspaper editor in defamation suit

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On May 30, 2018, attorneys for Oberlin College in Ohio subpoenaed local newspaper editor Jason Hawk to testify about his confidential sources.Hawk, the editor of the Oberlin News Tribune, had reported in November 2016 on protests outside of Gibson’s Bakery, a local bakery that Oberlin College administrators and students accused of racial discrimination. In November 2017, the bakery sued Oberlin College in state court for defamation.As part of the defamation suit, Oberlin’s attorneys subpoenaed Gibson’s Bakery for records of its …
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