"Online forensics are tough to do right. There is certainly more investigation that needs to be done before this case can be declared closed," Fertik told ABC News. "Depending on how the judge's computers are configured, several computers could appear to share an IP address. Many comment systems can also be hacked by malicious users who would to frame an innocent party."
Fertik said so-called "impersonation attacks" are among the most dangerous to a person because it is nearly impossible to prove you didn't leave a comment attributed to your e-mail account or an IP address associated with you, both of which can be manipulated.
"All too often online, many bloggers and Internet commenters will see just one piece of evidence and rush to judgment. The pitchforks and torches are out long before anything can be verified," Fertik said.
Since the Plain Dealer's first report, Advanced Internet, which runs the technical side of Cleveland.com and is owned by their parent company, has blocked the newspaper's access to e-mail addresses of commentators.
Sims, who could not be reached for comment, asked Judge Saffold to step down in four of his cases, reports say. Saffold rejected three of those requests, according to reports. On Monday Saffold said she would wait at least one more week to decide if she'll step down from the Sowell case, and Sims is considering bringing this to the Ohio Supreme Court, the Plain Dealer reported. Spitz said he could not comment on anything related to cases currently before Judge Saffold.
"This has been a very traumatic series of events for a mother and daughter," Spitz said. "The Plain Dealer should have respected the anonymity that was promised."