Beaver County Treasurer Connie Javens / file photo by John Paul
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Beaver County Treasurer Connie Javens has abandoned her attempts at learning the true identities of six anonymous commenters on BeaverCountian.com. Nearly three years after she originally filed her lawsuit alleging defamation, Javens notified a judge late last month she was officially discontinuing the litigation.

Attorneys are calling the case an important victory for the public and the press.

Javens and her daughter, Renee Javens Zuk, filed a defamation lawsuit in May 2016 against BeaverCountian.com commenters aka John Q Taxpayer, thebigdigger, THE EXECUTIONER, Slicer, Courthouseconvicts and ConnieintheSlammer.

As part of their lawsuit, Javens and Zuk issued a subpoena against BeaverCountian.com for identifying information about the anonymous individuals.

Although this publication was not a named defendant in the lawsuit, BeaverCountian.com’s John Paul refused to comply with the subpoena and vowed to protect the commenters’ anonymity. John Paul subsequently invoked the Pennsylvania Journalist Shield Law — a law that protects a reporter who gathers news from being “required to disclose the source of any information procured or obtained by such person, in any legal proceeding, trial or investigation before any government unit.”

In March 2017, Senior Erie County Judge John Bozza issued a ruling agreeing with BeaverCountian.com’s position that John Paul could stand behind the Shield Law to protect the commenters. According to BeaverCountian.com’s attorneys, it marked the first time in Pennsylvania that a new media reporter had invoked the Shield Law during litigation, and the first time any reporter had used the Shield to protect the identities of anonymous commenters on a news website.

Javens and Zuk took no further actions in their ongoing litigation following Bozza’s ruling as they were unable to identify the commenters.

Seeing no activity in the case for an extended period of time, Beaver County Common Pleas Judge James Ross issued an order on Feb. 7 directing the two women to appear in his courtroom on March 19 to “show cause why the case should continue.”

An attorney representing Javens and Zuk subsequently filed a notice with the court on Feb. 21 formally discontinuing the litigation.

Brian Collins, a Philadelphia based attorney with the law firm of Offit Kurman, represented BeaverCountian.com in the case. Collins said actions taken by BeaverCountian.com in protecting the commenters’ anonymity helped to solidify important protections for reporters throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.

“This ruling represented an expansion on the interpretation of the Shield Law,” said attorney Collins. “The Shield Law now covers new media to the same extent it covers old media. The Shield Law also now protects all journalists who want to follow up with anonymous commenters to develop stories, which can certainly help to encourage the free flow of information.”

The defense mounted against Javens upheld fundamental rights of the general public as well, according to Beaver attorney Gerald Benyo, who represented “John Q Taxpayer” in the litigation.

“This was an important case in Beaver County as the Court upheld a commenter’s Constitutional Right to anonymous freedom of speech,” said Benyo.

“There are too many documented incidents in Beaver County where an individual who does the right thing and reports bumfuckery to authorities is punished for their actions once they are identified. … Any citizen has the right to criticize elected officials.”

BeaverCountian.com’s Complete Coverage Of Treasurer Connie Javens’ Unsuccessful Attempt At Unmasking Anonymous Commenters:

Attorney Gerald Benyo files motion on behalf of “John Q Taxpayer” / photo by John Paul

Treasurer Connie Javens And Her Daughter File Defamation Lawsuit Against Six Beaver Countian Commenters

Treasurer Connie Javens Was Sitting On A Bench Waiting For Me

Editorial: This Is My Sacred Ground From Which I Shall Not Be Moved

Attorneys Prepare Legal Action As The Beaver Countian Refuses To Give Commenter Records To Treasurer Javens

Commenter’s Attorney Files 1,000 Page Court Motion – Seeks $10,000 In Sanctions Against Treasurer Connie Javens

John Paul Invokes Journalist Shield Law In Court Filing To Protect Commenters’ Identities From Treasurer Javens

Attorney For Remaining Five Anonymous Commenters Targeted By Treasurer Javens Files Motion To Quash Subpoena

County Judges Recuse Themselves From Treasurer Javens’ Lawsuit Against Beaver Countian Commenters

Out-of-County Judge Assigned To Treasurer Javens’ Lawsuit Against Beaver Countian Commenters

Hearing Date Set For Beaver Countian’s Motion To Quash Treasurer Javens’ Subpoena For Info About Commenters

Hearing In Treasurer Javens’ Attempt To Identify Anonymous Beaver Countian Commenters Has Been Postponed

Attorneys Object To Hearing Scheduled At Erie County Courthouse On Treasurer Javens’ Attempts To Identify Commenters

County Court Administrator’s Office Refusing To Send Defense Exhibits To Judge In Treasurer Javens’ Lawsuit Against Commenters

Judge Changes Mind – Decides Treasurer Javens Court Hearing Will Take Place In Beaver County After All

Quack Quack! Attorneys For The Beaver Countian And Anonymous Commenters Take On Treasurer Javens In New Court Filings

Treasurer Connie Javens’ Adult Daughter Alleges Commenters Are Causing Her To Lose Her Hair

Beaver Countian’s Attorneys Continue 1st Amendment Fight On Behalf Of Commenters Being Targeted By Treasurer Javens

Attorney Argues Treasurer Javens Is “A Crooked Politician” In Court Documents Defending Anonymous Commenter

VICTORY! Judge Blocks Treasurer Connie Javens’ Attempt To Unmask Anonymous Beaver Countian Commenters

Judge Orders Treasurer Javens To Court Over Abandoned Lawsuit Against Beaver Countian Commenters

Treasurer Javens Withdraws Lawsuit Against BeaverCountian.com Commenters Ahead Of Court Hearing

Motion filed by an attorney for Javens and Zuk discontinuing their case.

About BeaverCountian.com’s Legal Representation In The Case:

attorneys

Founded in the 1980’s in Baltimore, Offit Kurman is now one of the fastest-growing full-service law firms in the region. The group has a keen understanding of the importance of the intersection of law and technology, having recently expanded their attorneys with technology focused practices including intellectual property, data and cybersecurity, and privacy issues. With 120 attorneys on staff, the firm offers a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category. Offit Kurman’s twelve offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, and New York City metropolitan areas, and markets including Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Northern Virginia.

Legal representation for the Beaver Countian was arranged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the world’s leading digital civil rights organization. The EFF was founded in 1990 to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows. The international nonprofit organization champions causes of user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. The EFF has lead litigation against the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program in conjunction with efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A staff member for the organization served as the “digital bodyguard” for Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, helping to secure source material provided to the reporter by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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weezelsBackJohn Q TaxpayerValdamirSANDIE FOR TREASUREMungo Jerry Recent comment authors
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John Q Taxpayer
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John Q Taxpayer

A big THANK YOU goes out to Mr. Benyo! You know how much I appreciate you Benny!

John Q Taxpayer
Member
John Q Taxpayer

Feel the love Connie and Renee.

Real deal
Guest
Real deal

Good for you JP and all the commenters on the win

SANDIE FOR TREASURE
Guest
SANDIE FOR TREASURE

Bye bye the con. Don’t let the door hit you in your corrupt ass!! Soon we will have a decent Treasure in Beaver County.
SANDIE EGLEY FOR TREASURE!!!
NO MORE NEPOTISM!!!!

Mungo Jerry
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Mungo Jerry

Owwww CONnie!….You feel that?!? Don’t worry that’s just pride fuckin which ya…hahaha Seriously though the primary motivation behind this attempt to unmask people who make comments that hurt your itty bitty feelwings had a very strong smell of nefarious odor. The ability for this miserable old battle ax to gain insight into real names of commenters has been shutdown for now thankfully, but remember CON there is always the up and down arrows on this comment section for you to take out yours and your daughters anger towards the comment, and or the commenter….lol…oh well better luck next time!
Ps. Congratulations to you Mr.John Q Taxpayer…..ole battleship never had a chance.

John Q Taxpayer
Member
John Q Taxpayer

Thank you Mr. Mungo. Benny deserves all the credit.

weezelsBack
Guest
weezelsBack

Psst… johnQ Benny deserves all the credit . . . “Oh Boy, he let’s me call him Benny.” You are like a little school girl.”
Any compliments for JP/BeaverCountian ?

Valdamir
Guest
Valdamir

Idk
The Times used to print anonymous letters to editor but stopped for some reason.
I am for free speech and freedom of the press but something doesn’t seem right here.
Just saying.