by DEREK HAIRE
In what appears to be an attempt to silence his critics, Memphis Police
Director Larry Godwin has filed an interstate subpoena for discovery against
the owner of the blog MPD Enforcer 2.0, an anonymous website geared toward and
run by current and former members of the Memphis Police Department. The
anonymous Google Blogspot site has, for the last four months, served as a sort
of online water cooler where Memphis' uniformed patrol officers can voice
their anonymous discontent with the leadership of MPD, whoM they collectively
refer to as "the 12th Floor."
The MPD Enforcer 2.0 quickly became a clearinghouse of unreported or unpublished stories of interest to Memphis police officers, in part thanks to its name. In the 1990s a paper version of the MPD Enforcer was circulated among Memphis Police by hand. Later, during the dawning days of the internet, an online version appeared on the Geocities website.
Today, the MPD Enforcer 2.0, written and maintained by a group of people with no connection to the original paper version of the Enforcer, enjoys new life on Google's Blogspot website, where anyone within or without the MPD can publish whatever they like without fear of recrimination. The only method of contacting the current administrator of the Enforcer 2.0, who operates under the pseudonym Dirk Diggler, is via his AOL email address, and he agreed to an email interview with the Memphis Flyer under the condition that his identity remained secret.
Q: How did you find out about the subpoena? Was it through a friend, an email tip, a letter from AOL, etc?
A: AOL sent an email to us and included a copy of the subpoena.
Q: Since you started the blog, have you had any contact with or endorsement from the writers of the original MPD Enforcer, or are you working independently of them?
A: Since starting the blog, we have had someone contact us and claimed to be the author of the original Enforcer. They praised us for keeping up the good fight and gave a general endorsement. To the best of our knowledge, they have not contributed. We accept tips from a numerous amount of anonymous resources.
Q: What contact, if any, have you had with AOL about your account since July 11? Have they given you any indication that they intend to comply with the subpoena?
A: AOL only contacted us after receiving the subpoena. AOL gave us a limited amount of time to respond and we are currently seeking legal counsel. Further, we are consulting with the Justice Department to see if there is a possible "color of law" violation being committed by Director Godwin.
Q: Have you received any threatening or harassing emails from self-identified members of MPD?
A: We have never received any threatening or harassing e-mails from anyone. All communications have been positive and congratulatory. On the other hand, we have received numerous troubling comments on the blog. It appeared to be nothing more that the administration trying to disrupt our public forum. We had to lock down the comments section, but that issue was resolved.
Q: In your opinion, why do you think Director Godwin is trying to out you? Do you think it is connected to a particular story or blog post?
A: We feel that Director Godwin is trying to put an end to our blog because it exposes the intimate secrets of the administration. I would like to make this perfectly clear. The blog and comments posted have nothing to do with the person Larry Godwin. The aim is at the direction of the police department and the decline in morale. The public position of the Director's office makes it fair game for any citizen to comment on. If there was another person in the Director's office that was steering the ship towards the rocky reef, every man or woman on that boat would voice an opinion. We provide the location for anonymous "venting" and will continue to do so until the internet is no longer available.
Q: Has the subpoena changed your attitude toward blogging? If you are outed, will you continue to write?
A: Absolutely not. If anything, it has made us more focused on searching for the truth. Further, it has caused us to focus on the individual officers and their need for justice. For decades, the Memphis Police Department has had a history of handing down discipline based on political or personal beliefs. Many officers have been charged and suspended over an arrest/incident with someone who is connected to another in political office. That's just not fair. We are in the developmental phase of creating an impartial support group for officers who have been wrongly disciplined. Once established, we plan on attacking the issues in a litigious setting.
Director Godwin has filed a motion for discovery of the identity of Mr. Diggler under the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act, which has been made law in thirteen states, among them Tennessee and Virginia. According to Channel 24 Eyewitness News reporter Jeni DiPrizio, subpoenas have been sent to AOL, Google, and Zimbio, Inc., but among the three, only AOL is based in a state where the law is applicable. AOL is headquartered in Virginia, but Google and Zimbio are both based in California, and neither company has contacted Mr. Diggler about Director Godwin's legal motion.
Under the law, the jurisdiction of the discovery state has the power to quash the subpoena, which in this case is the 20th Judicial Circuit of Virginia. In a previous case, IPA vs. May, Judge Thomas D. Horne of the 20th Circuit issued a protective order on behalf of AOL on the grounds that the plaintiff had failed to furnish a "mandate, writ or commission" to the court under the UFDA as required by Virginia law.
To put it in layman's terms, Director Godwin may face a long, tedious legal battle if he truly wants to publicly identify Mr. Diggler and his associates in court. As the original Dirk Diggler might say, "You're not the boss of me, Jack. I'm Dirk Diggler and I say when we roll."