The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

N.H. Prosecution for Forgery That Had Been Aimed at Getting Material Vanished from Google Search Results


If you send Google a court order that finds certain online material to be libelous, Google will consider "deindexing" that material—essentially making it disappear from Google search results. The order wouldn't legally bind Google (American court orders gotten against a particular defendant don't bind third parties who aren't in league with the defendant); but Google will often choose to act on it, on the theory that a court has determined that the material is false and defamatory. To my knowledge, Google doesn't do the same for expungement orders, but people sometimes submit those orders to Google in any event.

But any successful system breeds parasites—here, attempts to procure such court orders fraudulently, or even using forgery (see this forthcoming article). Last week, a criminal complaint was filed in New Hampshire against Heidi L. Holt as to one alleged forgery:

And here is the alleged forgery (though you can see it more clearly here):

The alleged forgery was submitted to Google with a deindexing request for these pages: [note that this article mentioned Holt only in passing as part of an arrest blotter, unrelated to the headline, and the newspaper has by now apparently removed her name]

Holt is charged with forgery and with tampering with public records. For similar cases from past years, see here, here, here, and here.