Critic-Raiding Sheriff Settles With Bloggers Who Sued Him Over His Unconstitutional Actions

from the fun-things-happen-when-immunity-is-denied dept

Now that Terre Bonne Parish sheriff Jerry Larpenter has had his immunity stripped by a federal court, it appears he's ready to pay up to keep the damages from mounting. Sheriff Larpenter abused a terrible law -- Louisiana's still-on-the-books-for-some-reason criminal defamation law -- to harass a critic of his. On the way to getting slapped by the court, Larpenter went judge-shopping (bringing his warrant to an off-duty judge) for someone willing to sign his unconstitutional warrant -- a judge who later found the warrant with his signature on it to be perfectly legal.

The state court of appeals shot down Larpenter's warrant. The inevitable civil suit that followed found Larpenter being de-immunized in successive decisions, leaving him to actually bear some responsibility for his act of censorship.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown reports Larpenter is now making nice with Jennifer and Wayne Anderson, the couple targeted by the sheriff for their criticism. The Andersons had their home raided by Larpenter's deputies, who seized every electronic device they could find, including the Andersons' childrens' laptop.

Larpenter has reached a settlement in the civil suit filed against him by Jennifer and Wayne Anderson, whose home was raided by Larpenter's deputies in 2016 after Jennifer blogged critically about the sheriff.

"I think the sheriff's finally learned that he can't bully people and violate people's constitutional rights," Wayne, a Houma police officer, told local station WWLTV. "In our case, he stepped on the wrong people's constitutional rights because we knew our rights. Hopefully, he thinks twice the next time he gets his feelings hurt."

If Larpenter is going to think twice, it will be because a federal court -- in no uncertain terms -- told him he travelled far outside Constitutional confines and the boundaries of his job to harass a critic. The decision opened with this memorable line:

Some qualified immunity cases are hard. This case is not one of them.

It went on from there to explain there was no legal precedent that offered cover for his actions, pointing out no reasonable law enforcement officer could possibly believe abusing a statute already found unconstitutional could possibly be Constitutional.

The Andersons have already received $50,000 from Terre Bonne Parish for its participation in this debacle. The amount of Larpenter's settlement is still undisclosed.

Despite all of this, there's been no action taken by Terre Bonne Parish to punish Sheriff Larpenter for his actions. This will hopefully be corrected. $50,000 has already been transferred from the parish to the Andersons for his 1st and 4th Amendment violations, and it's unclear who will actually be paying for the most recent settlement. Someone who thinks they can use the powers granted to them by constituents to engage in foolhardy witch hunts against critics can't be trusted to impartially handle the job of law and order.


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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 13 Sep 2017 @ 4:51pm

    Angry cop

    It's too bad bad cops like Larpenter give cops in general a bad name. I've run into a few cops who were seemingly good people trying to do an often difficult job. Larpenter should retire and crawl back under his rock.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 5:05pm

      Re: Angry cop

      Larpenter should retire and crawl back under his rock.

      Close, but not quite right. Might I suggest:

      Larpenter should be fired and crawl back under his rock.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2017 @ 1:45am

        Re: Re: Angry cop

        Correction: Larpener should be fired, prosecuted, then after serving jail time, he can crawl under his rock.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          trollificus (profile), 14 Sep 2017 @ 8:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Angry cop

          My oh my, so harsh. I say, after being "fired, prosecuted and serving time", in recognition of his years of fine service, the citizens if Terrebonne could help him out by placing the rock upon him. With vigor!!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Annonymouse, 14 Sep 2017 @ 3:11pm

        Re: Re: Angry cop

        I am less forgiving and have a mean streak

        He should be fired into a rock...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 19 Sep 2017 @ 4:12pm

      Re: Angry cop

      Cops in general give cops in general a bad name. Larpenter just stands out a little more than most in that crowd.

      Go look up the laws in your state that define what makes someone an accomplice to a crime or a conspirator. Then ponder whether the willingness to give armed backup to someone who has committed crimes would make the backup officer an accomplice.

      Consider the fact that if I were to rob a bank, then the next day visit my girlfriend, if she so much as let me make a sandwich in her kitchen, she'd be as guilty as I was with regards to the bank robbery, even if she didn't even know a bank had been robbed.

      Then ask yourself -- are most cops good, or is that a myth?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 5:02pm

    You need to ask?

    This will hopefully be corrected. $50,000 has already been transferred from the parish to the Andersons for his 1st and 4th Amendment violations, and it's unclear who will actually be paying for the most recent settlement.

    That's easy enough to answer as far as it really matters: Not Sheriff Larpenter.

    The odds of him personally paying so much as a dime is low to none(I'd love to be proven wrong, but I don't expect to be), which puts the odds of him 'learn[ing] that he can't bully people and violate people's constitutional rights' at a similar 'low to none'.

    When those with badges start having to personally pay for the fines levied against them for their actions they will start to care. Until then they have no reason to and will continue to abuse their position for profit, entertainment and power.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2017 @ 6:21pm

    Although wildly improbable, I'd love to see the settlement include a term that all his electronics are turned over to the Anderson family, and all his backups are wiped. Let him feel the havoc caused by overzealous seizing when he has to reconstitute his life from paper records.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2017 @ 6:36pm

    It's Terrebonne. One word.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2017 @ 2:45am

    Is it perhaps time for the judiciary(even perhaps as part of this qualified immunity finding) to take a long hard look at the Judge who signed this warrant?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 14 Sep 2017 @ 5:53am

    If the man doesn't get punished by Terre Bonne Parish then someone should be punished for failing hard. Start punishing who is up in the chain if they don't act accordingly when such violations occur. We'll see how fast things will change...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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