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Hawaii Tribune Giving Out IP Address of Commenters on Their Website – Attorney Trying to Make Reporter Turn Over Notes

In an article written today by John Burnett of the Hawaii Tribune entitled, “Subpoena seeks names of people who wrote online,” Hilo Attorney Ted Hong has requested personal information regarding folks that commented on an article written on January 30th, 2012.


Click to read article

The newspaper complied with the demand and gave away the information of their readers, which they can legally do.

…Hilo attorney Ted Hong, who’s representing Elections Office Administrator Pat Nakamoto in her defamation lawsuit against former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi, filed the subpoena on Jan. 4 in 3rd Circuit Court. In it, he’s seeking the identities of individuals posting under the user-names “punatic,” “Taxedtodeath,” “punatic8,” “QQ,” “548991” and “rsjm.”

The document seeks “any and all account information, including but not limited to, name, birthdate, mailing address, telephone number(s), Internet protocol address, (and) name of Internet service provider … .” The deadline for providing the information is today.

A legal disclaimer on the Tribune-Herald’s website contains the statement: “IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.”

“We are complying with the subpoena requests,” said David Bock, Tribune-Herald editor and news director for Stephens Media Hawaii. “We are very protective of our news sources and reporters’ work, but we have no control over what members of the public write in our website’s comments section…”

Unfortunately, Ted Hong is also requesting that one of the paid journalists to turn over her notes in the case regarding this same case involving the fired election workers.

Hawaii has a shield law that protects both bloggers and journalists from turning over their sources.

“Hawaii allows anyone to claim protections under the shield law so long as they meet certain conditions, such as proving they write regular reports of substantial public interest.” (Civil Beat 8/31/12)

Burnett of the Tribune Herald writes:

“…West Hawaii Today also was subpoenaed by Hong, seeking the notes of Stephens Media reporter Nancy Cook Lauer regarding stories she wrote about the firing of Nakamoto and three other elections workers, and the flap that ensued.

Bock said Stephens Media is fighting that subpoena, noting that Hawaii has a “shield law” protecting journalists in most cases from having to turn over their notes or the identities of their sources…”

I hope that Nancy Cook Lauer and the folks at West Hawaii Today stick to their guns and do not allow their reporters notes to be turned over to investigators.  It would be a huge step back in journalism and folks would no longer feel comfortable talking to reporters about things they know about if they might get in trouble for it in the future.

I’ve noticed that Tiffany Edwards Hunt of the Big Island Chronicle and David Corrigan of Big Island Video News have been pretty quiet and not blogging as much of late.  I wonder if they also got served with these subpoenas?

2 Responses

  1. Haters make me famous.

    Just saying.

  2. Ted Hong is an Ambulance Chaser, pure and simple.

    Here’s the sort of thing that a typical Ambulance Chaser would do:

    He is on the highway driving home from a day at the office and he notices a car, a hundred feet ahead driving in the same direction, signaling for and attempting to pass the next car in front—with on-coming traffic approaching.

    The driver obviously did not see the on-coming car, or miscalculated the speed of the on-coming car. Unfortunately, it happens.

    Perhaps he was distracted by the three children of his he had in his car at the time—because his wife was sick and he had to pick them up from school instead.

    In any case, he over-reacts, attempting in vain to move out of harms way.

    But, nonetheless, tragedy occurs when the man loses control of his vehicle and, not having used his safety restraints, is thrown from his car as it rolls.

    Hie dies almost instantly.

    An attorney like Ted Hong would be thinking, “hmmm, gross error, no, *negligence* on the driver’s part. I bet I can get these kids and their mom some money!”

    So, what does the Ambulance Chaser do?

    He says to the kids (still inside the crumpled car) while handing them his business card through the broken out window, “here, kids, give this to your mom, she needs some good legal counsel to help her in this terrible time of need!”

    But, no, this is a real attorney who (I’m assuming) went to a real law school.

    And, nobody has died.

    But the County of Hawaii taxpayers (most of which do *not* have a “gravy” government job and work their asses off for half as much pay) were getting screwed.

    They were paying for County of Hawaii Elections Office supervisor to run his *personal* sign-printing business (probably making up election signs for “Good Ol’ Boy Slick Willy Kenoi”) out of the Taxpayer-funded Elections Office warehouse—where he would throw parties for himself and some of his crony employees.

    Well, maybe he didn’t throw parties, per se, but he and his employees *admitted* to storing and using alcohol on the premises [like, maybe, “yeah, we have one drink, bra, now and then, but, shootz, so what? No big deal, hey?”].

    And contraband (illegally stored private sign-printing equipment belonging to the Elections Office supervisor, and alcoholic beverages) were found on the premises.

    The disgraced Elections Office employees involved in this clear act of malfeasance—and their so–called supervisor—were rightfully shown the door.

    See ya! Wouldn’t wanna be ya!

    Chumps. You don’t deserve a government job. Not in most people’s opinion. Certainly not mine. Good look finding one in the private sector.

    And, then along comes Ted Hong. He tells the disgraced, rightfully terminated Elections Office employees and their supervisor, “Pssst, I think I can get us some money! It looks like maybe we can convince the jury that ‘they’ didn’t precisely follow ‘procedure,’ [or something] …”

    Yada yada [you know how you can tell when a lawyer is lying, don’t you?].

    Ted, either you are really just a very funny guy in real life and are simply trying to play an (ill-conceived) prank on the County Council (that just so hap pens to be big waste of time and Taxpayer’s money), or you are truly a clueless Ambulance Chaser looking for some publicity and a reason to make honest, hard-working taxpayers (both in the private and public sector) resent you and your whole profession.

    Disrespect? You have earned it, Mr. Hong—just like the disgraced Elections Office employees and their supervisor whom you call your “clients.”

    Rightfully terminated? You better believe they were! The whole island knows it, too.

    So, see you in court, Teddy Boy.

    Oh, and to save yourself a subpoena, loser:

    Brian Ansorge
    P. O. Box 11062
    Hilo, Hawaii 96721

    IP Address:
    Road Runner/Oceanic Time-Warner

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