At around dinner time on Feb. 6, 2008, a knock at the door at the Rawdon, Que., home of Steve Solo set the dogs barking. It was a pair of Sûreté du Québec police officers, on hand to usher in the local huissier -- the bailiff -- on an unannounced visit to execute a court order to seize computer records as evidence in a defamation case.
The retiree and part-time musician, whose real name is Stephen LeBlanc (Solo is a nom de plume, he explains) was not accused of a crime: Mr. LeBlanc is one of six defendants in a David-and-Goliath case pitting moderators on a local online message board against a pair of town officials and the village itself, which has a population of about 10,000 and is located 70 kilometres north of Montreal.
"I was scared," Mr. LeBlanc recalls. "I'm just an ordinary citizen, you know. It upset me to have police in my house."