Late last week the case settled for an undisclosed amount. The settlement occurred less than three weeks after a trial judge denied a motion by the newspaper and its parent company to dismiss the case.
Though the terms remain secret, an official from Advance Internet -- a Plain Dealer affiliate -- reportedly said that the company had instituted new measures aimed at preventing the newspaper's editors from learning commenters' identities. "It was not our intention to make this information available to The Plain Dealer, and we have taken steps to prevent this from happening again," John Hassell, vice president of content at Advance Internet, reportedly said.
The article that unmasked Saffold back in March revealed that lawmiss had commented on pending legal cases, including a capital murder trial. At the time, the newspaper reported that it only investigated the identity of lawmiss after someone using that screenname sent in a post dealing with the mental health of a relative of reporter Jim Ewinger.
Then-editor Susan Goldberg argued that the judge's identity was newsworthy. "What if it ever came to light that someone using the e-mail of a sitting judge made comments on a public Web site about cases she was hearing, and we did not disclose it?" she said at the time.
It might be understandable that Goldberg had the impulse to publish information about Saffold. Still, you'd think that someone at the paper would have stopped and considered the dangers of revealing a commenter's name after leading people to believe that their posts were anonymous.