John and Jane Doe defendants in a defamation suit will have to appear for depositions, despite arguments that doing so would violate the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, the state Superior Court has ruled.
A unanimous three-judge panel quashed the defendants’ challenge to an order to compel discovery filed by Gary and Nancy Veloric, the plaintiffs in Veloric v. Doe. The ruling Monday upheld a decision from the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, which had granted the plaintiffs’ order to compel discovery.
Although the Does had contended the order was an appealable collateral order since it involved their rights against self-incrimination, Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan said the Does were seeking to improperly apply that privilege.
“Appellants seek to use the Fifth Amendment privilege as a blanket protection allowing them to hide their identities and avoid appearance for a court-ordered deposition,” Shogan said. “We cannot agree that such overarching protection is afforded by the Fifth Amendment.”
The case stems from an anonymous phone call and two text messages that Nancy Veloric received claiming that her husband was having an extramarital affair. The call was from an unidentified woman claiming to be Gary Veloric’s girlfriend, who was angry that he was having sexual relationships with another woman.