Federal lawsuit claims LPSO violated man's rights
BATON ROUGE- A Livingston Parish man filed a federal lawsuit against the parish sheriff, some of his deputies and three council members after he was arrested last year for something he posted on Facebook.
Deputies accused Royce Mclin of three counts of defamation last August. The District Attorney's Office tossed out those charges last December. Now Mclin's attorney, Stephen Spring, says in the suit his client's arrest violated his free speech rights.
"They went in to Royce's house and seized all of his computers, son's Xbox, PlayStation, and had it forensically examined," Spring said. "Well in advance of issuing warrants for his arrest."
The post on Facebook last year mentioned five council members, but only three filed complaints; Cindy Wale, James Norred and Chance Parent. Today, News 2 reached out to those council members mentioned in the lawsuit. Through the council clerk, we were told there would be no comment because they hadn't been served yet.
Last year, however, Parent told News 2 he felt his life was threatened.
"We're not going to take these things lightly," Parent said last August. "We can't take these things lightly. What initially started the investigation is we need to watch our backs. Or we'll be taken out, which we thought was cyberbullying or cyber crime."
Mclin's attorney takes issue with the way he says sheriff's deputies handled the case, especially when it comes to McLin's free speech rights. He hopes a lawsuit will help clear his client's name, even though formal criminal charges have been dropped.
"We would like to see people charged with upholding the law uphold the law, execute the law," Spring said. "The same laws they have sworn to... You always hear ignorance of the law is no excuse, well that works for them too."
Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard released this statement to News 2: "No comment. It's in litigation. Now, it's a courtroom matter."
The lawsuit specifies numerous damages including violation of constitutional rights, false imprisonment and emotional distress.