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In re Application of Action and Protection Foundation

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

June 19, 2014

In the Matter of the Application of ACTION AND PROTECTION FOUNDATION; DANIEL BODNAR, For an Order to Conduct Discovery for Use in a Foreign Legal Proceeding pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1782.

ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER'S SECTION 1782 APPLICATION FOR DISCOVERY [Re: ECF No. 1]

LAUREL BEELER, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Action and Protection Foundation, a human rights organization aimed at establishing and protecting a self-governing and independent Hungarian Jewish identity, and its chairman Daniel Bodnar filed an ex parte application under 28 U.S.C. § 1782 to obtain discovery to use in civil and criminal litigation in Hungary. See ECF No. 1 at 5.[1] The litigation is aimed at hate speech (principally authored in Hungarian) contained on a website called Kuric.info and aimed at (among others) Jews of Hungarian origin. Id. It proposes subpoenas directed at Bela Varga, who registered the domain name for Kuruc.info, and Cloudflare, the webhost that is used as a platform for the articles published at Kuruc.info. Id. at 5-6; Bodnar Decl., ECF No. 2, ¶ 3.

The court held a hearing on June 18, 2014 and orders the discovery set forth below.

STATEMENT

The applicants filed complaints, and are interested parties, in civil and criminal proceedings in Budapest, Hungary. ECF No. 1 at 1; Bodnar Decl. ¶ 6. There are two criminal investigations with respect to Kuruc.info pending in Budapest, Hungary: Case No. 01000/2458-1.2013 and Case No. 01030/257/2014. Bodo Decl., ECF No. 3 ¶ 1; Bodnar Decl. ¶ 6. Mr. Bodnar says that the investigations will be stymied without the discovery requested in the subpoenas. Bodo Decl. ¶ 2; Bodnar Decl. ¶ 6. Two criminal cases had to be suspended for the inability to identify the offender: (a) Case No. 01050/4335-3/2013 (relating to Holocaust denial on Kuruc.info) and (b) Case No. 01050/4253/2013 (same). Bodo Decl. ¶ 2; Bodnar Decl. ¶ 7. Mr. Bodnar's civil complaint for defamation (Case No. 1.B.33.088/2013/2) was unable to proceed due to the inability to identify the offender. Bodo Decl. ¶ 2; Bodnar Decl. ¶ 7. If the offender is identified, the case may be reopened. Bodo Decl. ¶ 2; Bodnar Decl. ¶ 7. The Hungarian courts have no personal jurisdiction over Varga and Cloudflare. Application at 7.

Mr. Bodnar and other directors of the Foundation have been held up to public ridicule by Kuruc.info. Bodnar Decl. ¶ 8. Mr. Bodnar has been specifically targeted by Kuruc.info through "hateful, defamatory, libelous and slanderous articles and postings, " and through them has been subjected to fear, intimidation and ridicule. Id. ¶ 9. Kuruc.info conceals the identities of the individuals behind Kuruc.info. Id. ¶ 10.

Mr. Bodnar attaches a November 14, 2013 article from the San Francisco Chronicle about Kuruc.info that describes it as (1) regularly disputing the Holocaust, (2) organizing hate campaigns against Hungary's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and Roma communities, and (3) publishing last year the photographs, home addresses, and phone numbers of demonstrators protesting outside the Budapest home of an accused Hungarian Nazi collaborator named Laszlo Csatary, "who sent thousands of Hungarian Jews to their deaths in World War II." Id. ¶ 11 & Ex. 1. The Chronicle identifies Bela Vara as the registered owner of the website and says that the "writers and editors [of the website] are in Budapest. Id. & Ex. 1. The article also says that in September 2013, Varga acknowledged in the Healdsburg Patch (apparently a local newspaper) that he had registered the Kuruc.info domain and opened a bank account for the website as a favor for friends, but he said that he had nothing to do with the website's content. Ex. 1. The Chronicle also said, "Others have questioned Varga's hands-off assertion, pointing to reports that Kuruc.info offered a $340 bounty for every demonstrator outside Csatary's house courtesy of our Comrade Bela Varga who lives in America.'" Ex. 1.

Mr. Bodnar attaches an email (in Hungarian) that he describes as follows: " Kuruc.info also admitted in a recent email exchange that persons wishing to contribute to and support the website can do so by making contributions to Varga's account at Sonoma Bank, and that the recipient for such contributions is Varga, 1340 Woodside Ct., Healdsburg, CA 95448 USA, bank routing number:XXXXXXXX and account number XXXXXXX." Bodnar Decl. ¶ 13 & Ex. 2 (the email).

Article no. 17/A § (1) of the Hungarian Criminal Code criminalizes "Harassment:"

[A]ny person who engages in conduct intended to intimidate another person, to disturb the privacy of or to upset, or cause emotional distress to another person, or who is engaged in the pestering of another person on a regular basis, such as frequently making unsolicited calls to another person by way of telecommunications equipment or actually harassing another person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, community service work, or a fine, if such act does not result in a criminal act of greater gravity.

Id. ¶ 8.

The proposed subpoena to Mr. Varga requires him to testify about, and bring to the deposition, the following documents:

1. All documents, including electronically stored information, related to the website kuruc.info including but not limited to all contracts with Cloudflare Inc. (including the Cloudflare Inc. Terms of Use), documents evidencing all payments made to Cloudflare Inc. for services rendered by Cloudflare Inc. to kuruc.info (including without limitation, webhosting), documents evidencing all complaints made against kuruc.info, documents identifying the reporters, sources, authors, editors, artists, business managers, political lobbyists, sponsors, and/or owners of kuruc.info.
2. Copies of all bank statements for the Sonoma Bank Account with the last four digits of 2919.
3. Copies of all checks written on the Sonoma Bank Account with the last four digits of 2919.
4. Copies of all checks cashed to the Sonoma Bank Account with the last four digits of 2919.
5. All documents, including electronically stored information, evidencing all deposits received into the Sonoma Bank Account with the last four digits of 2919.
6. All documents, including electronically stored information, related to funding of kuruc.info, including without limitation documents evidencing from whom money and advertising revenue come, in what amounts, and to whom kuruc.info pays and/or donates money.
7. All documents, including electronically stored information, constituting communication between Bela Varga, on the one hand, and any other person on the other hand, referring to kuruc.info.

Ex. 1 at 14. The proposed subpoena to Cloudflare requires it to testify about, and bring to the ...


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