They settled the case, dammit.
Look, I'm not generally a rubbernecker. I don't slow down to look at car wrecks on the other side of the highway. I don't join the crowds jostling for a better look at the EMT giving CPR or hang around to watch firefighters at work. But this is one I've had my eye on.
What I'm talking about here is the $50 million lawsuit brought by Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold and her daughter Sidney against the Cleveland Plain Dealer for outing them as "Lawmiss" who comments on the paper's website on news stories about, among other things, cases before Saffold.
The judge claims she isn't the one who uses her e-address and registration as Lawmiss to do the commenting. Sidney says she does some. Ah, but the lawsuit meant depositions. Which meant Shirley would be required actually to answer questions about it all. Under oath.
My neck was turning elastic merely from the thought.
Maricopa? Phooey. Killer Keller? Bah. We had our own here in the Honorable SSS. I'd already written some. I was virtually guaranteed copy for the new year. (My son, then a columnist for his college newspaper, got the same sort of enthusiastic glimmer when Dick Cheney shot his friend: Copy we've got copy.)
And then they went and settled the damn case.
Let's review. The Cleveland Plain Dealer publishes stories on line, and provides a mechanism for readers to post comments, but first they have to register. The registration information is, under the PD's semi-contractual terms, confidential. Saffold, a judge, was a registered commenter using the name Lawmiss. When Lawmiss said some critical things about the PD and its reporters, they went and dug up the registration information and outed her. And since Lawmiss has not only been commenting on Saffold's cases, but also offering racist and other offensive comments . . . . Well, Lawsuit, Ho as nobody says.
But 50 million smackeroos? Of course, it wasn't about the money. It was the principle of the thing. As it always is. Saffold explains in the PD.
"There are times in your life when no matter the odds or the size of your opponent, it is important to stand up for what you believe -- rights of privacy, defending yourself and your family, and the ability of judges to act independent of outside influence," Saffold said.
"Having done so, Sydney and I are very happy to end our litigation after reaching a positive resolution with Advance Internet, including the proactive steps taken by Advance Internet to better protect all its online posters' privacy."
Sure. Like I say, not about the money. It was all about the principle. Apparently, the principle could be best served with a settlement.
I don't know how much the PD forked over. But Advanced Internet, which hosts the registration information and improperly allowed the PD to get access to it and then out SSS with it, kicked in some. The PD reports that AI funded a charity.
"I would like to thank Advance Internet for also funding a charitable donation in my mother's name to the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church choir," Saffold said. "This episode was very difficult for my mother to deal with in her last days and the donation to a cause that she felt strongly about means a lot to my family and me. We appreciate everyone who has continued to stand by and support us, including our attorney, Brian Spitz, who provided us with quality representation to bring this case to resolution."
A settlement is probably the right ending for the lawsuit. But not much fun for this Blawgger.
Oh well. The new year is young.