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Santa Clara County, Calif., Superior Court Judge Jack Komar initiated contempt proceedings Tuesday against two defendants found to have libeled their former employer on the Internet. Komar said attorneys for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Varian Medical Systems, Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates Inc. and their managers had presented enough evidence to move forward with an order to show cause hearing in July that could result in jail time for defendants Mary Day and Michelangelo Delfino. According to Varian’s attorneys, Day and Delfino have been posting messages on their Web site and elsewhere that violate a permanent injunction that Komar issued in December following a jury trial. In court papers, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe associate Matthew Poppe stated that Day and Delfino could each receive as many as five days in jail for each act that flouts the injunction. Day and Delfino have boasted of posting more than 15,000 messages on their Web site and on message boards at Yahoo and other places since the case began. Randall Widmann, representing Day, and Glynn Falcon Jr., representing Delfino, argued Tuesday that since the injunction required their clients to take actions, rather than avoid certain conduct, it should be stayed pending appeal. But Komar disagreed. “It’s no different from removing a sign from a truck or changing the letterhead of your stationery to stop misrepresenting yourself,” Komar said. Lawyers for Day and Delfino also said their clients shouldn’t be forced to turn over a list of the screen names or aliases they’ve used, arguing the order to do so violates their right not to incriminate themselves. Jon Eisenberg, an Encino, Calif.-based partner at Horvitz & Levy representing Day and Delfino on appeal, has called the injunction an unlawful prior restraint, and said he would file a habeas writ if Komar orders his clients jailed at the July 11 contempt hearing. In December, the Santa Clara jury awarded $775,000 in damages against Day and Delfino.

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