In response to the attempt by the Maui police and district attorney to subpoena identifying information about online commenters to Maui Time, Village Voice Media Holdings has pledged $1,000 to Maui Time to help in its legal efforts.
“Law enforcement subpoenas seeking a reporter’s sources are an occupational hazard the alternative press has experience resisting,” said VVM Executive Editor Michael Lacey. “However, the attempt of prosecutors to seek the identity of our online readers threatens not only the First Amendment but also serves to chill our audience which relies upon the web rather than newsprint. Jim Larkin and I have faced the same intrusive threat from then County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix.”
“We urge all of our colleagues in AAN to join us and make a donation to Maui Time’s defense fund. We do not allow law enforcement to threaten our staff; we must not allow them to threaten our readers.”
Tommy Russo, publisher of Maui Time, had a run-in with local police while attempting to film Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman and his entourage on a public street on April 12.
Russo posted a video and news story about the incident on his publication’s website and several Maui Time readers sent in comments that were critical of the Maui police.
Maui police and the local district attorney then issued a subpoena telling Maui Time to turn over identifying information about all the reader/commenters on the story over a 24-hour period.
Russo and his paper are fighting this in court, arguing that this is a direct, challenge to the free press rights of Maui Time to publish wrongdoing and that it clearly attempts to stifle the First Amendment rights of people to comment on matters of public interest.
To make a contribution to the Maui Time Defense Fund please send a check to:
Publisher Tommy Russo
33 Market St. #201
Wailuku, HI 96793