Resolution of the Steubenville Defamation Case

by Paul Alan Levy

I am pleased to note that the parties to the defamation action in Steubenville, about which I blogged earlier this month, have resolved the matter in the very sensible manner to which my blog post pointed:  the young man whose nasty behavior spurred much of the commentary was allowed to apologize for his misconduct while proclaiming his innocence of the much more serious abuses of which some anonymous commenters had accused him, while the blogger acknowledged that there was no evidence of the protagonist's involvement in such abuses.

Sad to say, this is an instance in which not only the defense against subpoenas to identify anonymous posters, but the bringing of a defamation action itself, may have done some good.  A number of people involved in the situation have told me privately that it was not until they read my blog post and compared it to what they had read in the blog comments that they appreciated that some of the anonymous speakers may have gone just a bit too far.


This post was inadequate, as originally posted, for failure to acknowledge the key role played by Ken White over at Popehat — he put out a call for lawyers to defend the speakers in this case, and sent several Does to Public Citizen.  And although I knew from counsel involved that they were in active discussions about ending the case, it was from his concluding post about the case that I learned that the settlement had been concluded. 

I can't say I agree with every one of Ken's conclusions about the case, but his role here was invaluable.