U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Oberlin College subpoenas legal blogger for communications with source

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 3, 2018
Syracuse, New York

Subpoena/Legal Order

Legal Orders
Legal Order Target
Legal Order Venue
July 3, 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 Nov. 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The subpoena was withdrawn on July 18, after Legal Insurrection filed a motion to quash the subpoena citing New York’s press shield law.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].