Caddo Parish District Attorney May Be Breaking Law In Fight With Reporter
There has been a lot of discussion recently over the effectiveness of the Caddo Parish District Attorney's office. With a recent surge in violent crime across the Shreveport and Bossier City, attention has been placed on the way suspects are being treated once they're arrested, and how offenders are treated once convicted.
One of the leading stories in that conversation centers around a suspect in a recent Shreveport homicide, Elijah Williams.
Williams is accused, along with Thomas Office, of killing Jared Pelletier on Prospect Street in Shreveport. But after a local TV reporter started investigating Williams criminal record, things started to paint an unsettling picture. KSLA's Doug Warner looked into Williams' criminal history, and found that Williams has rarely faced punishment for crimes he's been accused of, or convicted of.
In response to the reporting from KSLA's Warner, the Caddo Parish District Attorney's posted a social media response directly to Warner. UPDATE: The original Facebook post appears to have been removed.
Inside the comments, Warner cited his sources and responded to the passive-aggressive post, in which the District Attorney's page tagged his account. Other constituents posted their comments as well, but the District Attorney's page decided to silence those people. They deleted the comments, and restricted the thread...which was pointed out by KSLA's Warner in the comments.
However, the move to silence constituents appears to actually violate the law. A surprising move for a District Attorney's office. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the comments section of Public Official's social media posts are a "public forum" and are protected by law. Ruling that Public Officials cannot delete or block people from commenting based on the opinions they hold.
A separate case on the same subject, this time centered around former President Donald Trump and his Twitter account, brought the same response from courts. It was argued up to the Supreme Court, who decided not to hear the case, leaving the lower court's rulings in tact.
The ACLU argued in these cases, where they participated through friend-of-the-court briefs, that Public Officials cannot block people from participating on their social media pages simply because they don't agree. After winning the cases, the ACLU said:
"That means that, when a public official blocks critics from the page because of their viewpoints, she violates the Constitution. Indeed, the right to criticize the government is at the heart of the First Amendment. The court specifically recognized blocking as infringing on that right, noting that blocking someone in order to silence criticism of government work is itself evidence of government action."
This illustrates that the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office has created a direct violation of these court rulings by blocking, banning, and restricting comments on their social media pages. In fact, the District Attorney's Office is even flaunting this violation on the post in question. At the bottom of the comments thread, you can see the warning from Facebook, which reads "Caddo Parish District Attorney limited who can comment on this post".