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Plainfield Trustee Wants Names of 'Anonymous Cyberbullies'

Garrett Peck filed a petition for discovery seeking the account information and IP addresses for Plainfield Patch users, saying they hurt his election prospects.

Plainfield village trustee Garrett Peck wants to identify anonymous online commenters, saying they posted false information that hurt his bid to become an Illinois state senator.

Peck, who was defeated in November 2012 by Democrat Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant for the 49th District seat, said he wants to uncover the commenters' identities, including a Plainfield Patch user, so he can potentially sue for damages.

In a petition for discovery filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, Peck is asking Plainfield Patch and Topix, a local online discussion board, to provide information about several commenters. He claims they are responsible for derailing his campaign. The petition asks Patch to turn over the users' account information and IP addresses, along with providing comments since removed from the site.

"I'm not against people making comments on the Patch or other media websites," Peck said. "The issue is anonymous cyberbullies attacking with damaging comments with no accountability, and this has to change."

The filing alleges that a Patch user who goes by the user name “Tim” commented on articles to post “patently false” accusations about Peck, who is now seeking re-election to the Plainfield village board. In the document, Peck also requests account information for two other Patch user accounts, for user names “Ron”/“Rod Jidzny” and “Eyes on Plainfield.”

In the documents, Peck states that user name "Tim" commented on an article published in September, calling Peck a "sociopath" and a "conman," and accusing him of bribing the police.

The petition states that "Tim" posted a comment "claiming 1) that the Plainfield police came to [Peck's] home to investigate a report that the petitioner had assaulted his wife and 2) that the petitioner subsequently paid the police cash to avoid an arrest."

Other comments accused Peck of illegally obtaining information about competing bids to help his company, Magik Technology Solutions Inc., win a 2011 contract to provide equipment to the Plainfield School District, the court document states. 

According to the petition, the statements made by the commenters are "factually and verifiably false" and "caused the petitioner anguish and suffering, and have resulted in harm to both his and his company's reputation."

Peck said he believes the user names "Tim" and "Ron" belong to the same Patch commenter.

Peck also wants Topix, which provides a forum for online discussions, to provide account information for an anonymous user by the name of "Fiscal Republicans," who allegedly accused Peck of having an extramarital affair. Topix LLC, a privately held company, is funded by the Tribune Company, Gannett, and the McClatchy Company. 

The petition names Patch, Topix and "John Doe" as defendants.

In the court filing, Peck attributes his loss in the November election to the online comments, stating, "as a direct and proximate result of the aforementioned defamatory content, [Peck] was not elected to the 49th District Illinois State Senate."

The petition goes on to say Peck loaned his own campaign about $80,000, and that the annual salary of a state senator is $70,000 plus benefits.

A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 6 at the Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago.

"The overall goal is to get their identities," Peck told Patch on Thursday, "and then we'll decide what our legal options are."

Peck is represented by Chicago law firm Saper Law, which specializes in cases involving social media, copyright infringement and online libel and slander.

k.free87 January 14, 2013 at 07:00 PM
@grandpamike I can understand where your coming from regarding Mr. Peck's feelings in regards to his "false" statements that have been published. But don't you think that if every politician would be using court action for libelous statements said by opposing parties or the public, wouldn't that be a waste of the court systems time and money?
mario January 14, 2013 at 08:19 PM
whats next, cross reference all the ip addresses who read any article related to peck and check against how that person voted and if against peck subpoena them to ask if they made a decision based on defamatory comments written by people on patch. get over it, you lost and one reason may be why is because peck did not use social media well enough to counter the malcontents.
Olddeegee January 14, 2013 at 08:21 PM
plainfield_4life Exactly. If every libelous statement made by supporters or opponents of every candidate took it to court, there would be no room for any other cases. I hope the case is dismissed for this reason, but we are the "hearsay is OK" state, so anything can happen. No matter how it plays out, Mr. Peck will gain no voters for doing this.
Grandpamike January 14, 2013 at 10:02 PM
@Plainfield_4lif Yes, I do believe that it unnecessarily ties up the court with this type of frivolous pleading. My point is, if he thinks that he was libeled, let him file that, instead of the nonsense he filed. Seems like it is a typical ploy be the losers, especially one party to do exactly like mr Peck is doing.
Grandpamike January 14, 2013 at 10:04 PM
@olddeegee You are correct, in that, if you watched any debate or run for office,the kind comments they each speak against the other is on a much higher level that "Tim" posting on a small blog like this.
Grandpamike January 14, 2013 at 10:10 PM
@J Simon Gee, I wonder how many suits were/are filed using the same standard you claim is the base line for a lawsuit, with respect to all of the signs, posters, outright lies, that targeted our President ? I am sure that at least one voter voted for Mr Romney by virtue of the "truth" behind said actions ? Read some left/right wing fringe blogs, or listen to Fox news and see if what they post/say is in any way libelous, or defamatory towards their targets. It's politics, dirty as it is, but accepted by voters, on one side or the other. Not many law suits filed, I would venture a guess.
J Simon January 14, 2013 at 11:43 PM
@Grandpamike I think you are doing the Patch a disservice if you are comparing them to blogs with an obvious extreme political agenda and slant, and a target audience of the same. In regards to what constitutes the basis for a lawsuit, that comes from the definition of defamation and the lawsuit requirements, not from me (http://saperlaw.com/practice-areas/defamation-lawyers.php is the simplest explanation I found). It is up to the person who is being defamed as to if they feel it is worth pursuing. I am not privy to Mr Beck and his personal life, so I do not know what effect Tim's (I evidently have little exposure to Ron, or wrote him off completely) allegations of Wife beating and police bribery have had on him, or his family. I certainly do not feel qualified to disregard such claims as being frivolous, or diminish their impact because "others" are willing to put up with more, or because their involvement in politics somehow means they should be more accepting of such accusations. That is "accepted" by voters is our shame, not theirs.
Brandon Andreasen January 14, 2013 at 11:55 PM
Well J Simon, seeing as i'm the person that actually took the time and energy to write about being in defense of Tim and Ron, i'll go ahead and slow you down a bit. At no point did I EVER believe the things that Tim was saying about anything that he ever said in the comments. I even went out of my way by going through the meeting notes of every Plainfield Village Board Meeting from 2012 to refute some of the things Tim said. That said, if you can't handle the things people are saying in the comments, then don't read the comments. Read the story that is posted and end your reading experience there. Garrett Peck is setting a terrible precedent with this. I came out in defense of Tim, Ron, and Eyes on Plainfield, not because I like these guys, but because Peck, by doing this, is completely and totally refusing to take responsibility for his own short comings during the election. And by the way, you are commenting anonymously. So is GrandpaMike, OldDeegee and everyone else that doesn't use their actual name as their user name. You are no different than any of the guys being accused. You might clean up your words better and pull your punches, but you still aren't attaching your name to your words. Keep that in mind.
Olddeegee January 15, 2013 at 12:13 AM
My name is easy to find on Google. A little research will usually help find some posters.
J Simon January 15, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Nice to meet you Brandon, my name is Jean Simon. Not terribly fond of it, so I tend to drop the first when posting online. Have never been asked to disclose it before, but certainly have no objections to doing so. Nice to meet you. Depending on the length of this response, I may end up in two parts, so pardon the split. I am glad to hear you are intelligent enough to not take things said online at face value. Unfortunately many people are not able to make those separations, or are not familiar enough with the regular posters to be able to recognize the "Tim and Ron's" on the site. I have no issues with the comments sections under the Patch articles. This article included. Many of the people post interesting and thoughtful comments, and I enjoy reading them. It may be Beck is deflecting his part in his loss and not accepting responsbility and his own shortcomings - that does not make the poor actions of others excusable, nor the posts he is protesting in the lawsuit acceptable. I have not read the suit to know anything of the details, and have to go by the outline in the article. It is possible that it may be amended to a straight defamation suit. Either way, so be it.
J Simon January 15, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Regardless of the basis of his suit, the true names and IPs addresses of the accused posters needs to be disclosed for things to go forward. I do find it interesting that this article has prompted an attack towards Beck - with the comments in effect blaming the victim for the crime committed against him, or claiming he deserved it. I suppose to some his being a public figure he does - I simply do not feel that way, if you disagree that is fine, but you cannot change my thoughts on it.
Brandon Andreasen January 15, 2013 at 03:12 AM
I don't expect to change anyone's thoughts. Nor do I want it to sound like i'm defending the commenters on anything beyond face value. And in truth, Garrett Peck probably isn't as good of a person as some of you might want to believe. I have stories too, that have been told to me by a number of people, about him. I chose to omit them because if Peck is willing to pull this to go after commenters, he'd do it to me too, and my goal is not to get my friends who told me these things caught up in the mess. The fact is, Garrett Peck lost his bid for senator. If the story is true, he spent 80k out of his pocket on it. I'd be mad, too. But there is a saying that goes along the lines of "let sleeping dogs lie." Peck would have most likely been reelected to the village board. Now, by him being a sore loser and blaming other people instead of himself, he has turned this into a much bigger deal. The newspapers are carrying it. It's a story now. And a LOT of people disagree with him and his thought process of attacking commenters like this. He hurt his own chances, come the April election. Plainfield isn't Chicago. A couple days worth of the news cycle aren't going to wipe this story out. This story will linger through the April elections. I wish i'd followed through in my thought process to run for the Village Board, because his spot is now very much in jeopardy.
Sam Spade January 15, 2013 at 04:10 AM
Tim....Tim.....come out come out where ever your are.
Frank January 15, 2013 at 04:23 AM
What does Glen Beck have to do with this?!
Peck Supporter January 15, 2013 at 08:52 AM
Mr. Clever, If you post something about Peck and it's true then you have nothing to worry about or fear. Posting things that are true cannot get you sued. So please indulge us as to all of these horrible thing you know about Peck?? I beg you! The fact of the matter is that your little anti-garrett clique is a small fraction of the voters in the village of Plainfield. Take a look at his Primary and General Election results in Plainfield Village Proper. What you and your little clique fail to mention or realize is that Garrett Peck has served our community for several years. Giving up countless hours of time, donating thousands of dollars to local charities, and always helping others. I had a problem in my subdivision and he was the first to respond when I emailed the village. Keep dreaming, your "little town" isn't so little anymore. You should be lucky to have someone like him on your board. If you have such an issue with him, why don't you grow up and call or email him and iron it out? Or is it easier to complain on a blog where you can attack him and others without having to debate back and forth? maybe someday when you move out of your parent's house, you will learn about what we as homeowners deal with and how good elected officials help us out. I actually wish you did run against Peck, Bonuchi, and Racich. You would have gotten smoked. last I checked, this isn't "Andreasonville".
Peck Supporter January 15, 2013 at 08:57 AM
I'm a friend and supporter of Garrett's. I supported his Primary and General Election campaign. The untrue statements posted on the patch are a portion of his lawsuit, in addition to several comments that were made which have hurt Mr. Peck's business. Your days of web attacks with lies are over my cute little troll :O) Find something true that you can back up and attack all you want. O wait, you guys didn' have anything, so you had to make it all up! Typical.....
Peck Supporter January 15, 2013 at 09:01 AM
Tim is already posting under different names and attacking Peck's efforts to identify him. It will all be over soon! I researched several cases with similair circunstances and the blogs were ordered by the courts to turn over the IP addresses. You cannot hide in this day and age as everything is time stamped and logged. If you commit a crime such as accusing an elected official of commiting a felony, you will be held accountable. Shame on you Tim!
Brandon Andreasen January 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Hey Peck Supporter, if you are such good friends with Peck, as you claim, then let him know to email me. I'd love to interview him. I will give him every inch of type space he wants to tell his end of the story. All we are getting are sounds bytes out of him. Let him actually speak. I'd love to hear his side, and i'd love to be the one asking the questions. If you notice, I was the one who wrote in defense of the fact that he was at basically every village board meeting last year, and unlike what Tim said, I said very matter-of-factly that he had voted yes on all but a handful of things, and pointed out the things he didn't vote yes on. You obviously don't understand the words I was saying, but then again, you are just some anonymous guy sounding off your opinions at 3:30 in the morning, so for all any of us know, YOU are actually Tim or Ron trying to throw us off the scent. Since you don't have a real name, i'm going to be forced to believe that you are no different from either of them.
Old Lee January 15, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Here is an intersting story about a "Texas couple who filed a defamation lawsuit over three years ago against anonymous posters on the Internet forum Topix.com won a $13.8 million judgment from a jury". http://abcnews.go.com/Business/jury-awards-13-million-texas-defamation-suit-anonymous/story?id=16194071
Frank January 16, 2013 at 05:10 AM
This is becoming a silly schoolyard scuffle, as if the combatants are eight years of age and somebody stolen the other's ball. Everyone really needs to lighten up because all that is happening is that the participants are looking sillier and sillier and more and more childish to anyone browsing this. This is the kind of stuff that escalates to ridiculous proportions for no valid reason and damages reputations in the process. People damage each other, then they damage themselves while attempting to damage the other in return. All that adds up to is both sides losing while occupying a bloody room and no good becomes of it. As a child of the sixties, a saying from that era echoes true here and decades later bears repeating..."make love not war."
abe froman January 22, 2013 at 09:30 AM
peck supporter won't even use his own name.
Sheila Raddatz February 02, 2013 at 03:50 PM
I agree. It is sort of an oxymoron, isn't it?
mario February 16, 2013 at 05:37 AM
its been weeks and no update. whats the latest news on this silly, frivolous, waste of time, reaching, cry baby lawsuit?
Tim Version 3.1.4 February 26, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Tim, if you are so rightous, why don't you debate Peck and the other people you slam in a public forum? Why violate the Patch's user agreement and hide behind a fake name? You are a coward!
stewart resmer March 28, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Go for it Mr Beck: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3036697/ns/msnbc-hardball_with_chris_matthews/vp/51042835/#51042835
BillBalls March 29, 2013 at 02:13 AM
It is wrong to use defamation, lies and libel regardless if here on this forum, or out in the real world. As such I understand Mr Peck’s position and actions to sue for libel. It is also just as wrong to use the legal system to silence fair and open speech, and for that one can also be sued under S.L.A.P.P provisions Aka: strategic lawsuit against public participation. I hope Mr. Peck is prepared for such an action, and I hope the posters he is suing seek legal representation. Mr. Peck is a public figure, so he must show actual intent of malicious against him to win any type of suit, and he’ll have to prove those posts actually made him lose the election. Patch and Tropx would be wise to reject the petition, or risk losing the trust of their users.
Frank March 31, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Whether done anonomously or publicly, a case of willful maliciousness with intent to inflict damage should be relatively easy to sort out from a case of a wiseguy just being a wiseguy. Somebody publicly saying your mama has a fat butt is alot different than somebody publicly saying that they observed her firsthand shoplifting. One being a snide and stupid comment, the other being a malicious lie that can be prosecuted. I'd think it's a fair and logical assumption that any observers would simply see this kind of stuff for what it is and little more. While I can see a way to support either side of this, I can't help but thinking it would preserve alot of dignity to just let it go. Then again, I'm not one of the two people involved, so my passion, understandably, is at a different level.
T-Bone January 19, 2014 at 11:12 AM
Good for you Tim!
Sam Spade January 19, 2014 at 01:04 PM
I think Ron Jidzny is really porn star Ron Jeremy.....there is your first clue Mr Peck...now solve the mystery.
Grandpamike January 19, 2014 at 06:18 PM
I am happy that Tim was exonerated, and now that a Federal Judge has decided that bloggers now have 1st amendment protections as citizen journalists the same as regular journalists.

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