The case that began in 2008, courtesy of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, continues in limbo until the Supreme Court makes its ruling in a matter of weeks. And as both sides await a decision on the status of online domain names that the Commonwealth hoped to seize, the state could not seem to allow the court to simply render its final decision. The latest attempt to change the focus of the case came in December with the addition of more defendants, and more recently, the Commonwealth has denied a request to release the names of U.S. citizens named in the new motion.
It all began when Governor Steve Beshear directed the Commonwealth to begin the process of seizing 141 internet domain names that the state deemed related to gambling and interfering with the state’s own revenue from industries like horse racing and the lottery. A number of groups immediately stepped in to stop the actions after a lower court judge granted the seizure order, and groups like iMEGA (Internet Media Entertainment & Gaming Association and the PPA (Poker Players Alliance) were joined by others like the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) in filing a successful appeal. The case was then appealed by the state of Kentucky to its Supreme Court, and the hearing on October 22 sent the judges to deliberate. A decision is expected in January of 2010.
More than a month after the Supreme Court arguments were heard, the Commonwealth filed a new motion to add names to its lawsuit, and those names included specific companies, presumably gambling-related, and U.S. citizens. The Commonwealth asked to amend its complaint to include those names, at which time iMEGA’s attorneys requested the names be divulged and made public. Lawyers for the Commonwealth have since refused the request, despite iMEGA being officially recognized as having standing in the case.
One lawyer for the Commonwealth, William C. Hurt Jr., wrote, “I do not believe anyone has standing to file a response or motion to strike.”
In response, iMEGA Chairman Joe Brennan Jr., noted, “Their strategy all along was to ignore us every step of the way, even after the Court of Appeals recognized our standing and blocked their seizure efforts. They can stick their head in the sand, but we’re not going anywhere, and frankly, neither is their attempt to seize these domain names… These lawyers lost a very public battle with us in the Court of Appeals, and probably sense the same result from the State Supreme Court, so they’ll do anything to keep this thing alive.”
It is not known whether the Commonwealth will be required to release the names of the new defendants added to its complaint, but these actions are not likely to interfere with the upcoming decision of the Kentucky Supreme Court.