“I love it when justice is tangible,” Jerri Smitko, one of the Andersons’ laywers, 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.
The raid was sparked by the sheriff’s investigation into who was behind the anonymous blog that accused local officials, including him, of corruption and fraud. Through a blog and a Facebook page called “John Turner,” ExposeDAT used public records to show conflicts of interest.
The sheriff sought warrants when Tony Alford, a local business owner, filed a criminal complaint about the blog. On August 2, Larpenter and his deputies raided the Andersons’ house after they traced the IP address of the John Turner Facebook page through a warrant to AT&T.
The information AT&T provided, according to an affidavit, gave the sheriff an address and a name: Wayne Anderson.
The court found that the raid on the Andersons’ house was unjustified. “Anthony Alford, the supposed victim, is president of the Terrebonne Parish Levee and Conservation Board of Louisiana, and a public official,” the decision read. “Consequently, the search warrant lacks probable cause because the conduct complained of is not a criminally actionable offense.”
The ruling said that when applied to public officials, like Alford, the criminal defamation statute is unconstitutional.