Judge: Search warrant on Houma officer's home was constitutional

Judge: Search warrant on Houma officer's home was constitutional

TERREBONNE PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A Terrebonne Parish judge says a search warrant he signed is constitutional and does not violate the rights of a Houma police officer.

It's a controversy that started because of a blog aimed at exposing corruption.

The warrant allowed Terrebonne sheriff's deputies to search the home of officer Wayne Anderson, seizing his cell phones and computers.

"Primarily I think it's freedom of speech, and now we are faced with an issue of a Fourth Amendment right where you have somebody's house raided and their property taken without probable cause being shown or established," said David Ardoin, Anderson's attorney

Several politicians are named on the "Exposedat" blog, including Terrebone Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter. It also questions insurance work that Houma businessman Tony Alford does for the Sheriffs Office. Alford is also president of the levee board.

"All I want to do is get to the bottom of it because me as an elected official, I have been run through the mill many years, but you have other individuals out there that are in the private sector and possibly could ruin their business," Larpenter said. "I don't think anybody has that right,"

Alford filed a defamation complaint with the Sheriffs Office, which led to the search warrant obtained by FOX 8.

"When the very same statute that is relied upon is unconstitutional in the circumstances how can you have probable cause," said Anderson's attorney, Jerri Smitko.

Anderson's attorneys argued all evidence seized during the search should be suppressed because the warrant was unconstitutional. They say what's written on the blog is protected First Amendment speech. In court, however, Judge Randall said there was no specific target mentioned in the warrant, stating no one has been charged with a crime, and he ruled the warrant valid.

Larpenter said his investigation is just beginning.

"I think what we're going to do is pull the sheets off, but I think we're going to have all of the covers pulled off to and expose the real exposers who's trying to defame and hurt innocent people in our parish," Larpenter said.

Anderson has been placed on administrative leave with the Houma Police Department while the investigation continues.

Meanwhile, his attorney said they'll seek federal relief.

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