A defamation claim filed by a local business owner was also tossed out.
A month after Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s deputies raided a home to expose the author of an anti-police and politics corruption blog, a Baton Rouge court unanimously found the raid to be unconstitutional, the Intercept reports.
ExposeDAT is a blog that describes itself as “Terrebonne Parish’s Underground Watchdog Group.” The blog’s author accuses Sheriff Jerry Larpenter and other local officials of corruption, fraud, and civil rights violations.
The raid took place when Sheriff Larpenter obtained warrants to AT&T, one of three filed in an attempt to expose the identity of ExposeDAT’s pseudonymous blogger John Turner.
Tracing the IP address of a Facebook page associated with the blog, police ended up in the home of Wayne Anderson, a local police officer. Authorities searched his home and confiscated all his electronic devices.
While Anderson denies any involvement in the blog, even if he did create it, legal experts agree it would very likely be protected speech under the 1st Amendment.
The warrant was executed around the time that local business owner and Terrebonne Parish’s latest insurance agent Tony Alford filed a criminal complaint about defamation from ExposeDAT. The defamation complaint was tossed out by an Appellate Baton Rouge court because Alford is actually a public official, so the alleged crime was no crime at all.
The local CBS affiliate reports:
Attorney Mary Ellen Roy said the U.S. Supreme Court has found Louisiana’s criminal defamation statute unconstitutional when it is used “…to punish public expression and publication concerning public officials, public figures and private individuals who are engaged in public affairs.”
Anderson continues to deny that he’s involved with the blog, which hasn’t been updated since the raid. Meanwhile, the ongoing campaign ad that is Larpenter’s website pitches his candidacy to continue as sheriff.
“I ask that you judge me by my past service and accomplishments as your Sheriff,” he wrote. “I ask that you remember I was always there for you. And, I ask that you allow me to again serve and protect you as the next Sheriff of Terrebonne Parish.”
H/T The Intercept
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