Should Google be able to reveal the names of your online enemies?

A Las Vegas lawyer has sued to force Google to identify people who he says have defamed him online.

Francois Lenoir/Reuters (FILE)
A computer user poses in front of a Google search page in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014.

A Las Vegas attorney known for frequent television ads wants a Nevada judge to order the Internet search engine Google to turn over the names of people who he says have defamed him with anonymous comments deriding him and his business, and to remove the offending messages.

Attorney Adam Kutner's lawyer, Bradley Booke, said Thursday that the goal of a complaint filed June 18 in state court in Las Vegas is to identify and sue the people posting "obscene, vulgar and false information."

"What I'd like to know from Google is the name of the people who are operating the blog," Booke said, "to identify the cowards that want to talk trash without revealing their identities."

Kutner and Google media representatives didn't immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.

The court complaint focuses on posts to a blog called "Wild Wild Law: Legal Antics and Jurisprudence in Nevada."

Kutner and Booke lost a previous bid to get a judge to issue a court order to identify a person using the screen name "Legal Eagle" for postings to the blog deriding Kutner in 2008 and 2009.

"Mr. Kutner has spent millions of dollars and made great efforts to provide and market legal services under his name," that lawsuit said. It bills Kutner, with more than 20 years in legal practice, as "one of the most recognized, most effective and most successful" lawyers in southern Nevada.

A post featured prominently on the Wild Wild Law website on Thursday calls Kutner names and refers to lawsuits involving his former employees. It accuses Kutner of "menacing" secretaries with a golf club and making derogatory comments about the heritage, intelligence and appearance of staff members.

Clark County District Court Judge Mark Denton ruled in March that because the complaint was filed in 2013, up to five years after the offending posts, it missed a two-year statute of limitations.

The Google complaint cites comments as recent as May 19, each attributed to "anonymous" and linked to the original Legal Eagle posting.

Maggie McLetchie, a lawyer who represented Legal Eagle in the 2013 case, declined to identify her client. She said opinions posted about Kutner are protected by First Amendment rights to free speech.

"Just because Adam Kutner spends a lot of money on advertising, he doesn't get to control other people's opinions," McLetchie said. "You can't sue somebody for expressing an opinion."

Booke said there's a difference between freedom of expression and defamation.

"These are all-out vulgar personal attacks that make accusations of illegal activity against Adam Kutner and his business," Booke said. "They are false. Those kinds of things are not protected by the First Amendment."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.