Judge lifts harassment prevention order against blogger

Monday July 9, 2012 Updated to correct number of blog posts at issue.

PITTSFIELD -- A judge lifted a harassment prevention order against local blogger Dan Valenti that kept him from writing about Meredith Nilan and forced him to remove blog posts about her.

Judge Mark Mason gave his decision on Monday after a daylong hearing in Central Berkshire District Court.

On June 27, Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega issued the harassment prevention order after Nilan filed a complaint. Sanabria-Vega set Monday's hearing to review the order.

Nilan called Valenti's blogs about her "constant," "full of lies," and sensationalistic. Valenti called his coverage "intermittent," forthright and honest.

On Monday, Mason said Valenti's posts didn't rise to the level of "fighting words" or "true threats" against Nilan, but warned the blogger, "You're walking a very, very fine line."

Valenti called Mason's decision a victory for him and all journalists. Bloggers and media outlets had cited the case as a violation of the First Amendment.

Valenti, of Stockbridge, wrote about 45 blog posts about the Nilan case. Nilan, of Pittsfield, was the driver of a car that struck a local man in December that left him with a broken neck and other injuries.

Last month, a charge of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident was dismissed against Nilan, while a charge of negligent driving was continued without a finding for six months.

As of late Monday afternoon, Valenti's website hadn't been updated nor had the deleted posts returned.

"We'll see what happens," he told The Eagle after Monday's hearing.

This story will be updated in future editions of The Eagle.


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