DA considers lawsuit against bloggers

Monday, August 18th 2008, 8:13 pm
By: News 9

By Jeffrey Smith, for NEWS 9

MCALESTER, Okla. -- McAlester District Attorney Jim Miller said he's considering a lawsuit to learn the names of bloggers who attacked his personal life.

The owner of the Web site has ignored a criminal subpoena to turn over the names to police.

The attorney said blogger Harold King is a criminal.

King said he's entitled to freedom of speech, but the district attorney said King is guilty of breaking a rarely-used Oklahoma law and he's not giving up the fight.

King operated the McAlester Watercooler Web site.

"We talk about corruption and problems," King said.

Bloggers have been actively criticizing Miller. Last week, cops presented King with a subpoena, demanding 35 names, addresses and social security numbers of the bloggers involved.

"He should not be using his position, or the police authority, for this kind of activity," Kind said.

He also questioned Miller's influence in getting a criminal investigation started.

"I find it offensive that somebody can sit out there in Internet world and make up a false name and say anything about you. To me, they're cowards," Miller said.

Bloggers claimed Miller was "involved in drugs" and was "receiving kickbacks." Others called him a "liar, a cheat, and a strong armed bully."

"If you print that, you bet, I'm going to file a police report, and I may sue you because it's a lie," Miller said. "It's a malicious lie."

Miller filed a report for criminal libel, punishable by a year in jail. First Amendment scholars said criminal libel is extremely rare.

"Civil libel, where you get damages, is really an adequate remedy for libel. And also, criminal libel, because it carries the additional threat of jail time, loss of liberty, in addition to a fine, is just too heavy a hand on government on speech, especially when it involves a government employee," said Gene Policinski, Vice-President, First Amendment Center.

"I've lost a lot of posters, people who have blogged regularly for a long time. People are calling asking if they can be traced, people are scared to death," King said.

Miller said there isn't free reign to call him a criminal.

"I'm simply a citizen, a citizen of the state of Oklahoma and the city of McAlester who filed a police report, because I believe I was wronged," Miller said.

Miller said he's ready to take a stand against King.

McAlester Police said they handed over their report to the district attorney's office Friday, who is ultimately responsible for filing the charges.

Miller has recused himself from the case, but said if charges aren't filed he will talk with his attorney about a civil lawsuit.