Readers who commented on an online newspaper article about a car crash are being called to testify in a vehicular homicide case in Montana. The defendant is Justine Winter, a 17-year-old girl accused of trying to commit suicide by veering into oncoming traffic. (She lived; two people in the other car died.) Her attorney is trying to change the trial's venue, and has subpoenaed seven individuals who commented on the website for the local paper, the Daily Inter Lake.
These people had commented anonymously, but Winter's lawyer successfully obtained their I.P. addresses from the paper and they're learning that actions on the Internet can sometimes have real world consequences? Doesn't seem fair.
Winter’s lawyer claims she will not receive a fair trial in Flathead County, and says the Daily Inter Lake's coverage, and the online comments in response to them, have tainted the jury pool. Now some of the commenters, who thought they were anonymous, are being called to testify. Of course, this is a long way from New York, and each state has its own laws, but just to be on the safe side you should probably stop leaving nasty comments on websites like this one! [Via Daily Intel]