Attorney: Legal precedent works against Godwin in lawsuit - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Attorney: Legal precedent works against Godwin in lawsuit

Reaction continued Wednesday to the lawsuit filed in Chancery Court that attempts to find out who is behind a blog that regularly criticizes Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin and his department.

The lawsuit asks AOL of Loudoun, Virginia, to produce all information related to the identity of an email address linked to the blog, named 'MPD Enforcer 2.0,' which has become popular with officers.

Click here to visit the blog.

Amid the lawsuit, the site operator has started selling T-Shirts that read, 'You Don't Know Dirk!'

The blogger, using the name of Dirk Diggler, after a porn-star character in the movie "Boogie Nights," is often critical of police management, and invites e-mails from readers with similar views.

Godwin went to court earlier this month trying to find out who's behind the blog. The suit, before Chancery Court Judge Kenny Armstrong, is under seal, and the police department refuses to talk about it, citing the pending litigation.

"I do hope that they get to the point that they have to make a showing in open court of the basis for identifying our client," said attorney Alan Levy, representing Dirk Diggler.

The Washington D.C. attorney was hired by Diggler because he takes on internet free speech cases.

Wednesday, Levy said this case is unique, because such cases usually involve corporations.

"Here you have a public body - the city of Memphis - and the head of the Police Department, which raises additional concerns," Levy said.
 
According to Levy, Godwin and the city could end up paying for violating the Federal Communications Privacy Act.

"There may be an action for damages against the city for seeking the identification of a speaker without following the proper procedures," he said.
 
Several reliable sources tell Action News 5 the creator of the website is a former Memphis Police Officer, and current officers contribute information. 

The Memphis Police Department's Rule on Unauthorized Statements says "A member shall not engage in any public statement...pertaining to the Police Department which reasonably can be foreseen to impair...public confidence in the Department or its personnel."

But, Levy said, the MPD rule won't hold up - he's tried this case in many courts.

"I try to be a reasonable guy," Levy said. "Let's see where the beef is."

Contacted through the MPD Enforcer 2.0 blog by email, Diggler refused to go on camera saying, "It would not be wise for me to do an interview.  It's not safe right now."

Action News 5 contacted Judge Kenny Armstrong's chambers Wednesday to ask why he sealed the lawsuit, but those calls were not returned.

A Memphis Police Department spokesperson said Director Godwin is out of the country, and that it's inappropriate to talk about an open case.


Click here to send an email to Kontji Anthony.

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