Twitter has accused actor James Woods of trying to “chill the First Amendment rights” of anonymous users after he filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against an unnamed individual who called him a cocaine addict.
After the lawsuit was filed late last month, Mr. Woods’ attorneys followed up with a subpoena to Twitter to identify the individual tweeting as “Abe List,” whose account has since been deleted, as well as someone tweeting as “T.G. Emerson,” who accused the actor of being a “notorious coke fiend and registered sex offender,” The Hollywood Reporter said.
In a letter dated Aug. 21, Twitter’s attorney Ryan Mrazik blasted Mr. Woods’ lawyers Michael Weinsten and Evan Spiegel for conducting unauthorized early discovery and trying to stifle free speech.
“The speech at issue appears to be opinion and hyperbole rather than a statement of fact,” Mr. Mrazik wrote, THR reported. “Further, the target of the speech is a public figure who purposefully injects himself into public controversies, and there has been no showing of actual malice. Attempts to unmask anonymous online speakers in the absence of a prima facie defamation claim are improper and would chill the First Amendment rights of speakers who use Twitter’s platform to express their thoughts and ideas instantly and publicly, without barriers.”
Attorney Kenneth White, who is representing “Abe List,” was in Los Angeles Superior Court Friday to file his own opposition to early discovery in the case.
“Plaintiff James Woods is abusing the court system to lash out at a constitutionally protected political insult — the very sort of insult he routinely uses himself,” the brief said.
The judge has scheduled an Oct. 2 hearing to discuss the matter further, THR reported.