The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Lenny Pozner, the father of a boy (Noah Pozner) killed in the Sandy Hook, sued James Fetzer and Mike Palacek, who cowrote the book "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook." The book had claimed, among other things, that
- "Noah Pozner's death certificate is a fake, which we have proven on a dozen or more grounds."
- "[Mr. Pozner] sent her a death certificate, which turned out to be a fabrication."
- "As many Sandy Hook researchers are aware, the very document Pozner circulated in 2014, with its inconsistent tones, fonts, and clear digital manipulation, was clearly a forgery."
Pozner said this libeled him, and in June a Wisconsin judge agreed, and granted Pozner summary judgment on liability; last month, the jury awarded Pozner $450,000 in damages.
Since then, there have been two requests submitted to Google under Leonard Pozner's name, asking Google to deindex pages that contain copies of the libelous book, and Google has gone along with those requests. Google generally does remove from its indexes links to material that a court has found to be libelous, so Google searches for such material no longer find it.
But a week and a half ago, another request came in to Google, and this request also sought to deindex material that simply discussed the case and criticized the court decision, such as various copies of "The Legal Lynching of a Truth-Seeker: Jim Fetzer's Stalinist-Style Show Trial" and "Sandy Hook and the Murder of the First Amendment." The court's judgment of course didn't find these items (posted in response to the judgment) to be libelous, and it offers no basis for Google to deindex them.
As best I can tell, Google didn't deindex these items; it gets such overbroad deindexing requests often, and generally sees through them. But I thought it was worth noting that there indeed has been an attempt to essentially vanish these criticisms from the searchable Internet.
On Monday, I e-mailed Pozner and his lawyer, with whom I had corresponded before, to confirm that the deindexing request submitted under Pozner's name indeed came from him; I have not gotten a response so far. But I have no reason to think that it came from any source other than from Pozner or his associates.