Jessica Karmasek Aug. 20, 2015, 7:08am


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - A federal magistrate judge has sided with search engine giant Google Inc., agreeing to move yet another subpoena fight to a Mississippi federal court.

In an Aug. 7 order, U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, signed off on Google’s proposed order.

According to the two-page order, San Francisco-headquartered Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP consented to the transfer of Google’s motion to compel, filed with the California federal court earlier this month, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

“The parties have met and conferred and hereby jointly submit the following Proposed Order for the Court’s approval,” the order states.

It is the second time in recent months that Google has had a subpoena fight moved to the Mississippi federal court. The company currently is suing Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood there, over his efforts to regulate third-party content online.

In this case, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company is trying to get Orrick to comply with its subpoena for certain requested documents.

The law firm, the Motion Picture Association of America and its member movie studios have exercised “remarkable influence” in Mississippi, Google alleges in its Aug. 3 motion.

“Documents already produced by AG Hood and other non-parties -- as well as documents uncovered by reporters -- reveal that they formulated a list of demands for AG Hood to send to Google; ghost wrote letters to Google that AG Hood sent; dictated the timing of his investigative escalations; tried to recruit others government officials to support him; and even helped prepare the 79-page CID at the center of this case,” the company wrote in its 25-page motion.

The attorney general, who sent the 79-page subpoena to Google last fall, has said he suspects the company is helping criminals through its search engine and autocomplete function. He also takes issue with the company’s sharing of YouTube ad revenue.

The company, which filed its lawsuit against Hood in December, argues it can’t be held responsible for such content and believes the attorney general is in cahoots with the movie studios to use legal action to obtain better piracy protection.

In June, Google filed a similar motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel Digital Citizens Alliance, the MPAA and law firm Jenner & Block LLP to produce documents pursuant to subpoenas issued by it in the Southern District of Mississippi.

Last month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson agreed to move the fight over the subpoenas to the Mississippi federal court.

In her 10-page order, Robinson said “exceptional circumstances” warranted the move.

On Wednesday, the attorney general filed a motion in the Mississippi federal court, asking that the current discovery deadline be extended until Dec. 18.

Google, in an Aug. 7 motion, also asked for an extension, but wants the deadline pushed back from Aug. 10 to Oct. 12.

“Given the pending motions, insufficient discovery responses and pending depositions, the Attorney General believes that a discovery deadline of October 12, 2015, as proposed by Google, is insufficient,” Hood wrote in his motion.

“The Attorney General, however, believes that the Parties can finalize all remaining discovery by December 18, 2015, assuming the Parties continue to work hard toward the goal of completing discovery and avoid additional unnecessary delays caused by discovery disputes.”

In March, Judge Henry Wingate granted Google’s motion for a temporary restraining order and motion for preliminary injunction against Hood.

In his full written order March 27 -- a follow-up to his March 2 order granting Google’s motion for a TRO and preliminary injunction -- Wingate was highly critical of the attorney general, saying he could not “wage an unduly burdensome fishing expedition into Google’s operations.”

The federal judge’s order prevents the attorney general from enforcing subpoenas or bringing a civil or criminal charge against Google under state law, as threatened.

Hood has filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Last month, 40 of the nation’s state attorneys general filed an amicus brief siding with Hood.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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