Thomas M. Cooley Law School is angry and they are doing something about it. The National Law Journal (NLJ) reports that Cooley is fighting back to unmask a blogger who was critical of the law school.
It all started when the school issued a press release that proclaimed itself as the second best law school in the country. The privately owned law school has four Michigan campuses and will soon have a Florida campus.
After that pronouncement, a blogger, self-titled as “Rockstar05”, began attacking Cooley’s statement. He founded a blog titled “Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam”. Then, he used the blog to belittle Cooley’s admission standards, graduate employment record, and student retention.
The school initially filed suit to learn the identity of the blogger and to move forward to sue the blogger for defamation. They also added three other anonymous defendants; the three people that added comments to the blog.
Since filing suit, the school has learned the identity of the blogger. The Judge has sealed that information because the blogger is a former law student at the school who has since transferred. He is in his third year at another school and presented argument through his attorneys, that unmasking him would possibly impact his future employment, after graduating this year.
This is a case of weighing the rights of free speech and anonymous blogging versus the rights of the party who is claiming defamation. The argument: someone should not be allowed to post something that is libelous and defamatory, without having to answer for it.
What’s really unusual in this case is that it’s a law school that is the opposing party. As Public Citizen attorney Paul Levy put it, “Setting the bar too low for disclosure would have a chilling effect on free speech. It is especially disconcerting here that a law school is the plaintiff that is trying to suppress one of it’s student’s voices”.
Cooley is seeking monetary damages, a retraction of the statements and their removal from the internet; and a court order barring the defendants from any future defamation against the school. Currently, there is an October 24 hearing set, to determine if the Cooley case can move forward and that the protective order regarding the blogger be lifted.
It seems like this may have far-reaching repercussions in the political world, involving anonymous attacks on candidates or political pundits. For now, I doubt that this is good press for Cooley admissions. The lawsuit has put a spotlight on them as well as the original “Law School Scam blog”. Initially, in an interview with NLJ, blog author Rockstar05 estimated that he was getting 30 web hits per day. A few days after the lawsuit was filed, the hits had increased over 500%.
And now, something more relaxing…. pic o’ day