From the Tim Lentz campaign
Sheriff Randy Smith has once again shown his ignorance of - or choice to flout - the law, but the law is winning, challenger Tim Lentz said today.
Today, Judge Scott Gardner ruled there was no probable cause in Smith's arrest of a federal agent in September - an arrest that stemmed from the agent, Jerry Rogers, allegedly sending pseudonymous emails concerning a high-profile unsolved murder case. Although the arrest on the outdated and unconstitutional "defamation" charge was made seven weeks ago and the D.A. referred the case to the Attorney General, the A.G. still has not received the materials.
"For starters, you can't arrest someone because what they say hurts your feelings," Lentz said. "The action itself showed a lack of understanding of the law and a disregard for the First Amendment rights we all cherish. That the sheriff has since dragged his feet in getting the case file to Baton Rouge suggests an underlying motivation: to drag it out until after the election next week."
In another matter, Lentz's attorneys today sent a letter to Smith's attorney, Chad Collings, demanding that the Smith campaign discontinue use of material and information obtained during depositions in a civil case - depositions that Collings himself had sealed under what's called a "protective order." In the mailers, Smith used documents that were submitted into evidence during the deposition. They appear with redacted names and in one case the name can be clearly read through the poor redaction. A video released by Smith's camp covers three topics that were discussed during the deposition.
In fact, during depositions, Collings said on the record, "I will tell you that every bit of discovery in this case is governed by protective order, which I sought, incidentally. And this deposition will be covered by that protective order. And it is my ethical obligation as an officer of the court to make sure we abide by that, and that is my intention."
"Well, that didn't happen," Lentz said. "It's astonishing that information gathered by the sheriff as he attempts to defend himself against a whistleblower lawsuit would be used in political material. It's even more remarkable that it's material that they, themselves, asked a judge to seal from public view."
Smith and Collings did not respond to the Cease and Desist Letter, and a Motion for Contempt and Immediate Injunction Relief Submitted on Brief's Pursuant to the Protective Order of the Court was filed before the close of business today.
"The people of St. Tammany Parish deserve a sheriff who knows the law, and who respects it," Lentz said.