Melvin v. Doe, No. G.D. 99-10264 (Pa. C.P., Alleghany County 2000).
Status: Dismissed by plaintiff

Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin sued the anonymous author of the web site grantstreet99, which focused on local politics in Alleghany County, Pa., over allegations that she had improperly lobbyied former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge on behalf of an attorney seeking appointment to the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas bench.

Melvin originally sued in Virginia, home of "Grant Street ‘99’s" web host AOL, seeking an ex parte order requiring AOL to reveal the webmaster’s identity of "John Doe." When the Virginia action was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, Judge Melvin then filed suit in Pennsylvania.

The trial court ordered Doe’s identity revealed and three fellow judges of Melvin’s on the Superior Court declined to consider the merits of the appeal. In November 2003, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sent the case back to the Superior Court and ordered a consideration of the merits. Melvin then dropped the case.

In 2006, at a trial in a separate federal suit, John J. Chapman testified that he was behind the Grant Street99 website. The jury in the federal suit, in which Chapman alleged that he was improperly fired from his job with Alleghany County because of the site, found in favor of the county. (Chapman v. Cannon, Civil No. 01-1341 (W.D. Pa. jury verdict May 26, 2006)).

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