In re John Doe A/K/A “Trooper” (Opinion)Annotate this Case
Tex. R. Civ. P. 202 allows a “proper court” to authorize a deposition to investigate a potential claim before it is filed. In this case, “the Trooper,” an anonymous blogger, launched an online attack on The Reynolds & Reynolds Co. and its chairman (collectively, Reynolds). To discover the Trooper’s identity, Reynolds filed a Rule 202 petition in the Harris County district court seeking to depose Google, Inc., which hosts the blog, and requesting that Google disclose the contact information of the owner of the blog website. Reynolds stated that it anticipated the institution of litigation against the Trooper. The Trooper opposed Reynolds’ petition, arguing that because he did not have minimal contacts with Texas sufficient for a Texas court to exercise personal jurisdiction over him, there was no “proper court” under Rule 202 to order a deposition to investigate a suit in which he may be a defendant. The trial court ordered that Google be deposed. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the Trooper’s petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its order, holding that the trial court’s order exceeded its authority under Rule 202 because a “proper court” must have personal jurisdiction over the potential defendant.