Earlier this month, we brought you the story of the ExposeDAT blog. A man affiliated with the blog was raided by the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office after the blog criticized parish employees.
Today, the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal has ruled that the freedom of the press guarantees in both the United States and Louisiana Constitutions are still valid in Terrebonne Parish. The raid against ExposeDAT was unconstitutional and you do have the right to criticize parish employees.
From Houma Today:
“The 1st Circuit basically said what we’ve been saying, that the criminal statute they used is unconstitutional whenever it deals with public figures or matters of public concern,” Smitko said. “There’s no crime. It’s unconstitutional, so the affidavit’s no good. They reversed the trial court’s decision and granted our motion to quash the search warrant.”
Smitko said the appellate court agreed that Alford, as president of the Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District, is a public figure.
“Justice has prevailed,” she said. “It sends a message to those involved that they cannot violate citizens’ rights with impunity, and hopefully it will make the citizens of our parish less fearful about speaking out against matters of public concern.”
Wayne Anderson, whose property was searched and seized, should sue the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office for violating his civil rights.
Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter still needs to resign since he’s willing to violate the liberties of his citizens and clearly cannot tolerate criticism.