The dispute presented by the petition for a writ of mandamus in In re Times-Picayune, LLC was a criminal defendant’s ability to have identifying information about online commentators on the defendant’s case produced for in camera review; the defendant contending that the commentators were federal prosecutors. No. 14-30298 (April 8, 2014, unpublished). The Fifth Circuit denied the petition, reasoning: “Here, we are not persuaded that the district court’s (1) balancing of the speech rights of anonymous commenters against the due process interests of [defendant] and (2) ordering the Times-Picayune to turn over information for in camera review was clearly and indisputably erroneous. As an initial matter, there is little case law illuminating how the competing interests in situations comparable to this one should be balanced. . . . Even in the absence of precedent, however, we cannot say that the district court here clearly reached the wrong decision.” [The short opinion is worth comparing to the concurrence in All Plaintiffs v. Transocean Offshore from 2013, about the availability of mandamus relief for discovery matters.] And subsequently, the district court concluded that the commentator at issue was not a prosecutor.
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