Attorneys for the Beaver Countian filed new documents with the court this week in defense of 6 commenters who are being targeted by Treasurer Connie Javens and her adult daughter Renee Javens Zuk. The two women are seeking to expose the real identities of commenters who left critical remarks about them on the Beaver Countian website using anonymous pseudonyms; the women filed a lawsuit back in May seeking financial compensation against the “John Doe” defendants for allegedly tarnishing their reputations.

Treasurer Connie Javens has claimed in sworn court documents that she has suffered “mental anguish, sleepless nights and humiliation” because of the comments; her adult daughter has alleged she is currently under a doctor’s care because stress from the comments is causing her to lose her hair.

Connie Javens has been under criminal investigation by the District Attorney’s Office for the past year after it was revealed she unilaterally made millions of dollars in payments to the new private owners of Friendship Ridge, in what District Attorney David Lozier has called a violation of Pennsylvania County Code. Renee Zuk garnered a private contract with the facility as the payments were being made by her mother — Javens’ son and her other son’s wife also enjoy separate contracts with the company. A forensic audit conducted on behalf of the Board of Commissioners, which Treasurer Javens refused to cooperate with, shows the new owners of Friendship Ridge now owe county taxpayers approximately $1.3 million from the sale of the facility.

Although this publication is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, Beaver Countian founder John Paul refused to comply with a subpoena issued against him by Javens and Zuk seeking information that could identify the anonymous commenters. John Paul has vowed he will not surrender the identifying information to Treasurer Connie Javens or her daughter.

The Beaver Countian is being represented in the matter by Philadelphia attorneys Brian Collins and Mark Gottlieb with the law firm of Offit Kurman. The legal representation was arranged for by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the world’s leading digital civil rights organization.

John Paul had previously invoked the Pennsylvania Journalist Shield Law in a motion to quash the subpoena issued against him by Javens and Zuk. According to the Beaver Countian’s attorneys, it marked the first time in the state of Pennsylvania that a new media journalist has invoked the Shield in any manner, and the first time any reporter in Pennsylvania has invoked the Shield to protect anonymous commenters.

In their newest filing presented to the court on Wednesday, attorneys for the Beaver Countian argue that the Journalist Shield Law prevents the court from compelling John Paul to disclose the confidential information.

“At a hearing in this matter, the Beaver Countian provided testimony and exhibits demonstrating the types of investigative reporting on its website, its wide circulation, the awards it has won for journalistic excellence, and the credentialing it receives for significant news events such as the recent presidential election,” wrote attorney Collins to the court. “The Plaintiffs did not, and have not, contested this assertion beyond baldly stating that as an online news source the statute does not apply to the Beaver Countian. The evidence presented at the hearing, along with the relevant legal authority interpreting the privilege, contradicts that assertion. Thus, the Beaver Countian qualifies for protection.”

Attorney Brian Collins went on to inform the court about the important role anonymous commenters have played in the Beaver Countian’s investigative reporting into governmental corruption.

“Pennsylvania has not yet decided whether the Shield Law should apply to prohibit the compelled disclosure of anonymous commenters’ identity through a journalist/news site, meaning the courts have not yet resolved whether anonymous commenters count as ‘sources’. Six other states, however, have ruled that their Shield Law does apply in analogous situations — to anonymous online commenters on a news site […]

“Given the above results in sister courts, and the generally robust character of Pennsylvania’s Shield Law, Pennsylvania courts should extend the protection of sources to these anonymous commenters. First, the comments communicate information to a news organization, the Beaver Countian. Second, the identity of the commenters is a confidential communication that the commenters expect and intend to remain confidential. Third, these commenters provide information to the Beaver Countian, which the Beaver Countian sometimes follows with further confidential interviews, and these interviews have led in the past to newsworthy, fact verified stories. For example, the Beaver Countian has used the following comment from John Q. Taxpayer as the basis for potential stories in the Beaver Countian:

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2016/02/22 at 11:54 am
John Q Taxpayer

Renee E Javens is listed as an Owner with J Renee’s Styling Salon in Pennsylvania. The address on file for this person is 1280 Center Rd, Monaca, PA 15061 in Beaver County.

The company is a Pennsylvania Domestic Fictitious Name, which was filed on March 17, 2014. The filing status is listed as Active. The address on file for this company is 1280 Center Rd, Monaca, PA 15061 in Beaver County.

FILED AND ESTABLISHED MARCH 17, 2014

Is the date a coincidence or was this company created for the sole purpose of obtaining a contract with Friendship Ridge? This fucking story keeps getting more crooked by the minute.

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“By requiring the Beaver Countian to divulge identifying information about these commenters, the Court will order the release of information that can identify confidential sources to a news gathering organization. Therefore, these commenters expect and rely on the confidential nature of their communication (by publishing on the site information but keeping their identity confidential to the Beaver Countian in the event of follow up) as a way to bring political corruption to light and to inform the Beaver Countian of potential developments in the community.”

The Beaver Countian’s full brief in support of the Journalist Shield Law protecting the anonymous commenters’ identities from Treasurer Connie Javens and her adult daughter Renee Javens Zuk can be read here (the Plaintiff’s supplemental brief can be read in full here).

It is not yet known if the court will order a second hearing in the motions to quash the subpoena, or if the court will rule on the briefs, testimony, and arguments already before it.

About The Beaver Countian’s Legal Representation

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.

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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.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like Javens doesn’t need any help by others to tarnish her reputation. She does a pretty good job all by herself.

     
  2. I think the pressure is getting to her, because of what I read and see from the other day! If she keeps this up her office walls will start to crumble down and end up in the basement! She really has to get her act together because she is falling apart at the seems, my kids do the exact some thing when they don’t get their way! This goes to show of what she is nothing but a bully, what is she like behind close door’s with her employee’s? Acting this way sure can not help her case in all the court cases coming up! She is losing her power hold at the court house and everyone can see the outcome of it, I feel sorry for her worker’s because am sure she is taking it out on them!

     
  3. “Connie Javens has been under criminal investigation by the District Attorney’s Office for the past year after it was revealed she unilaterally made millions of dollars in payments to the new private owners of Friendship Ridge, in what District Attorney David Lozier has called a violation of Pennsylvania County Code”

    If our esteemed DA states that she HAS violated county code why ih he then so lackadaisical to prosecute those violations.

     
  4. As a commenter with “figure of speech” opinions and as source of news information for possible future stories, I expect and rely that my identification be protected under the journalist shield laws.

     
  5. As an American I expect my opinions to be protected under the First Amendment. If this subpoena is not quashed, then where will it ever end?

     
    • Look at the larger picture, John Q. It can’t. In light of every despicable comment that was made in the recent campaigns and election, on every medium and in person, it can’t. Both candidates — and their families — were subjected to every verbal indignity imaginable, from appearance comments to death threats, well beyond defamation. And at least one candidate made threats and personal comments that are far worse than anything here. What are we going to do, round up every curse-uttering fanatic? No. And if this goes forward, there will be a court challenge every day of the future. As I have said before, this is about ego, nothing more. And the more that is found out every day, the worse it will get for the plaintiffs. It’s a waste of time, it’s a waste of money. The only thing to do is counter sue for the frivolous nature of it and the problems it created for the 6 commenters, so that it won’t happen again.

       
  6. Put that aside for awhile. let’s make sure she has her full attention focused on getting those tax notices mailed out…. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Merry Christmas, everybody!

     
  7. For anyone who witnessed Connie’s performance at the last Commissioners’ business meeting, this lawsuit would come as no surprise. Apparently, she sees herself above reproach, entitled to do as she pleases, and challenges are met with anger and outright aggression toward those who question her. It would not surprise me, if at the end of a failed attempt to sue people, she would say “I just want to get along here” and try to dismiss the whole thing as an honest mistake.

     
    • Agree with every thing you said Raven but the beginning of your second sentence is the meat on the bone because she is not the only one there who thinks so .JP needs to look at another stream of monies and how it’s handled and the behavior there

       
  8. By the look’s of thing’s, 2017 is going to be a very interesting year for the Beaver County Court House, If Hollywood would have to get writers for a new show for TV, there is know way anyone could think of a crime drama like this, with everything that has happened in the past few years! If you look at all the cast members, you would have one HELL of a show! it would have just about everything going for it! I have a few actors in my mind that could play Connie Javens part! LOL!!

     
  9. Thank you JP for publishing the briefs of both the plaintiff and defendants. If at all possible I would also like to read Attorney Benyo’s brief (If submitted). I was at the hearing and I was dismayed when Judge Bozza asked for brief’s to be submitted to him directly.

    As a Citizen of this county I am very interested in this, for several reasons I will get into later.
    I read over the Plaintiff’s brief and in my opinion it does not hold much water. The attorney for the plaintiffs – Attorney Peter Pietrandea (Here on out to be referred to as Attorney Pete for simplicity) is trying to make an argument that “preparing” a news story is required. No where in the law that he quoted do I see the words “preparing”. In fact the fist words in the Law very clearly state “No personnel “engaged” on…. “ The BC 6 are definitely engaging in the news story and contributing to the flow of information. Whether the information is well received or not is immaterial. Because of the nature of the Beaver Countian the news story has no ending as commenters can continue the flow of information indefinitely.
    2: Attorney Pete argues there “never was and never will be any limitations for anyone to give anonymous confidential information to a news reporter, even if it is defamatory.”
    In my opinion that is exactly what the plaintiff is trying to do. (To limit commenters) If She wins this law suit I will never be able to comment on this news site again for fear of reprisal from her or that my anonymity is not secure. Her actions at a recent public meeting have proven that and now I am fearful to even attend one of those government public meetings she will be present at. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all my beliefs. It is paramount for me personally to remain anonymous at the level of press, radio, and film. For me personally this lawsuit also has “freedom of religion” connotations.
    3: I personally do not believe this is truly about the plaintiffs suffering damage. I believe it specifically trying to run the Beaver Countian out of business and silence any and all critics.
    4: Attorney Pete claims “Both plaintiffs have been continually stopped in public and questioned about their alleged improper and illegal conduct.” My question and what Attorney Pete did not clarify is: Are people coming up to them asking this specifically because of the comments made by the BG6 or because of the actions the 2 plaintiffs. I.E. Criminal investigation by the DA, Unilateral withdraws, Coincidental(?) fictitious business starting. Etc… If people are asking Renee if she has an STD is it because they would like to have sex with her? I think that is a wise thing to ask anyone I am not married to and interested in having sex with.

     
    • Sometimes Xmas miracles are granted even in Beaver County Windchaser. Just close your eyes tightly and believe. I did file a Brief that is a matter of public record and believe I spoke very clearly as to my client’s position. Attached as Exhibits to the Beief are the articles that have images of the withdrawal slips signed by Treasurer Javens from the county depositories. If you contact my office i will provide you with a copy of thr Brief as a late xmas present.

       
  10. It seems to me, an outsider looking in, that Javens is the problem here. Not to mention the taxpayer money she is wasting with all of this in-fighting and her antics both in public and behind closed doors. I have to wonder why no one has begun the process of removing her from office? It also appears she may actually not only be a prima-donna but may in fact be mentally unstable. I think she has provided multiple causes for removal.

     
  11. I have wondered if the Javens are the only ones behind the law suit. Perhaps some others there are supporting her as she champions a cause against the BC.

     
  12. That fucking fruitcake created her own reputation and it for sure isn’t a good one. Hope they all rot in jail like a left over holiday fruit cake

     
  13. Windchasing: “If She wins this law suit I will never be able to comment on this news site again for fear of reprisal from her or that my anonymity is not secure.”

    The commenting has evolved. People now couch their comments in qualifications that make no doubt that they are expressing their personal opinions. That is legal and cannot be challenged. The main issues in this lawsuit revolve around “facts” that she says are untrue. The truth will solve that issue. The rest is subjective and would require substantial proof. As I said before, this will not change the United States of America or the First Amendment, or even what is said here. You are quite safe expressing personal views, and there are many safeguards for that. I say what I do to the best of my ability to be truthful and helpful. I even state that they are opinions, with no harmful intent. If someone has an issue with that, fuck them.

     
    • It is not so much that she takes exception to my, (Or anyone else’s) comments. I could care less how many thumbs down I get. Other people’s opinion of me is none of my business! However, she has proven to me by her own actions, that her integrity and her character are questionable at best. I have no idea what this woman is capable of. I am what would be considered “sue proof” as even if you win a judgement against me you will gain nothing and I do not believe she would stop at legal remedies to get what she wants.(As proven by her recent phone call to a vendor.) Of coarse that is just my opinion. Like you I have no malice towards anyone in my comments.
      The bigger issue is anonymity as I stated above, It is a spiritual thing for me. You do not have to agree with or even understand my spiritual beliefs but you do have to allow me to have them else your beliefs will be the next to go.
      This lawsuit is sooooo much more then just Connie’s sleepless nights and Renee losing hair. The Nazi party started off just wanting to know who the Jews were. Then registering them and ended up killing 6 million.The German people did not elect Hitler to kill Jews. Who would have even thought that possible before it happened?
      You are correct that it “will not change the United States of America or the First Amendment” at least not in my lifetime. But it is for my grandchildren that I am concerned.

       
    • I forgot to ad that I do not agree entirely with your statement that “The main issues in this lawsuit revolve around “facts” that she says are untrue. I see it a little different.
      In this phase of the lawsuit and what JP has been writing about is whether or not Connie has a right to know the true identity of the BC6. That is what Judge Bozza is deciding now.
      The “facts” will come out later if Connie has someone to take to court.

       
  14. On this peaceful night of Christmas merriment and joy comes, Good King Wenceslas… as sung by the Courthouse Choir:

    Ahemm… (tap..tap)…

    Good Queen Connie Javens looked out
    On the feast of Stephen.
    When the snow lay round about
    Deep and crisp and even…

    Brightly shone the moon that night
    Though the frost was cruel.
    When a poor man came in sight…
    F*ck him said she, let him eat gruel…

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Happy New Year!!

     
  15. Windchaser: The Renee hair thing is dubious at best. You can look at her public Facebook page photo postings and see that the hair is apparently all intact, and that it has been throughout this whole debacle and before.

     
  16. It saddens me that anyone must work in a hostile environment. I have no negative or positive comments about Ms Javens or her daughter. However, I do have a suggestion for MS Javens. When you no longer enjoy your job, and you find yourself being targeted for investigation, you must leave that job. None of the people ridiculing you or investigating your work care about what you are experiencing, and your workplace will only become more intolerable. Walk away, have a facial a massage, a mani/pedi, a new hairdo, and find a good counselor to help you through this time. Be prepared for the results.

     
  17. We watched when Friendship Ridge was sold to Comp Healthcare for 32 million. We watched while four members of the Javens family landed lucrative contracts with FR. We watched as another family member is employed in the court administrators office. We watched while the county paid FR a 300K performance bonus. We watched while Vince LaValle loaned FR 1.2 million of taxpayer money. We watched while Javens and LaValle pumped over 6 million dollars into FR with those one signature deals and no record of it. Now here is the big question- ARE WE FUCKING IDIOTS ? THERE IS A REASON THEY PUMPED 6m INTO FR. WE HAVE BEEN BENT OVER AND STUCK IN THE ASS PEOPLE. Merry Christmas.

     
  18. I don’t know exactly what Connie javens did or did not do but do you people have to be so mean. I can imagine what you’re going to say about Trump for the next four years

     

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