Privacy Law

Lawyer will have to ID dead Twitter user sued by James Woods, judge rules

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Actor James Woods will learn the name of the person who called him a “cocaine addict” in a tweet, even though the Twitter user is no longer alive.

In a decision on Tuesday, a Los Angeles judge ruled that the lawyer for the deceased Twitter user will have to reveal his client’s name, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Woods had sued the anonymous tweeter, who used the Twitter handle “Abe List,” for alleged defamation.

The Twitter user’s lawyer, Kenneth White, had refused to identify his client during a November deposition. Woods sought a motion to compel and requested $9,000 in sanctions for White’s assertion of attorney-client privilege in response to questions.

White had maintained he learned of his client’s identity through confidential communications, and he couldn’t be required to disclose the name. He also asserted that his client’s right to privacy and anonymity survived his death.

White said in a statement provided to the Hollywood Reporter that he is pleased the court denied the sanction request. He expressed disappointment, however, in the requirement that he disclose his client. “Sometimes in law the bad guys win,” he said.

Woods’ lawyer, Michael Weinsten, said in a statement that the ruling “sends a message to others who believe they can hide behind the anonymity of online social media to falsely accuse public figures of heinous behavior.”

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