Judge to rule October 9 whether identities behind anonymous mailers should be made public.


 
The organizations behind anonymous mailers that have drawn the ire of Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Attorney General Jim Hood will remain hidden at least the next few weeks.

A federal judge in Jackson who heard arguments on the matter last month, but did not rule, has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 9 to consider an injunction that seeks to keep the mailers’ origin hidden. Attorneys will submit briefs before then.

The August hearing before Carlton Reeves arose out of a lawsuit that claims the state law that requires senders’ identifying information be included on such political correspondence violates their right to free speech. The plaintiffs, who admit in the complaint they were behind the mailer, were identified as Anonymous Doe, Anonymous Roe and Anonymous Company. Named as defendants were Hood, Hosemann and Gov. Phil Bryant. In the complaint, plaintiffs ask Reeves to issue a temporary restraining order that would prevent Hood’s office from prosecuting them and keep their identities secret.

Hosemann and Hood are investigating the mailers, one of which went to some Madison County residents and depicts Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler as a puppeteer controlling candidates for supervisor. In a late July press conference, Hosemann called the mailers “gutless.”

A Madison County Justice Court judge signed search warrants related to the investigation that have already been executed, said Graham Carner, the Jackson attorney representing the plaintiffs. The violation is a misdemeanor.

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