The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana will be closing down its investigation into an anonymous blogger after a court ruling. An appellate court in Baton Rouge has found that the sheriff violated the Constitution by raiding a police officer’s house to investigate an online blog.
The First Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that Terrebonne Sheriff Jerry Larpente use of Louisiana's criminal defamation law to get a warrant to search for an anti-corruption blogger was unconstitutional, WWLTV reported.
Larpenter obtained the warrants in an attempt to expose the identity of ExposeDAT's pseudonymous blogger, John Turner.
Larpenter and his officers raided the home of a Houma police officer Wayne Anderson earlier this month as part of an investigation into the blog. Officers seized two laptop computers and five cell phones as part of their investigation.
Insurance broker Tony Alford had accused the blog of defamation for questioning his business contracts. The blog had also questioned public contracts involving Larpenter.
But the court said the alleged defamation was not actually a crime, because Alford is a public figure.
“I love it when justice is tangible,” Jerri Smitko, one of Andersons’ lawyers, told The Intercept.
“With that piece of paper it says that what they did was unconstitutional — that’s a great feeling because you’re holding it in your hand and it’s vindication for people that they intended to oppress,” she added.
Anderson has denied being the author behind ExposeDAT.