A federal judge Tuesday dismissed Gov. Bobby Jindal as a defendant in a civil suit alleging that a new state law unconstitutionally bars sex offenders from Facebook and other person-to-person Internet sites.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson also postponed Tuesday’s scheduled bench trial in the case until Nov. 2.
Jackson ruled in Baton Rouge the governor should not be a defendant in the case because he has nothing to do with enforcement of the disputed law.
Postponement of the trial was announced after a medical emergency prevented an appearance by one of the attorneys for John Doe and James Doe, two unidentified sex offenders pursuing the civil suit against state officials.
Louisiana’s new law does not unconstitutionally restrict free-speech rights, according to Elizabeth Baker Murrill, acting executive general counsel to Jindal, and Kurt Wall, director of the Office of Attorney General’s Criminal Division.
The statute contains a provision that would allow a sex offender to visit prohibited Internet sites after first obtaining permission from his or her “probation or parole officer or the court of original jurisdiction,” Murrill and Wall told Jackson in court filings.
“No irreparable harm can be demonstrated by any offender who has not even attempted to obtain direction from their probation or parole officer or the sentencing court,” Murrill and Wall added.
The suit was filed Aug. 15 on behalf of John Doe by attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union.
John Doe is described in the suit as an East Baton Rouge Parish resident, a disabled military veteran, and a registered sex offender who served four years in prison for possession of child pornography.
James Doe, an Iberia Parish resident, joined John Doe in the suit after it was filed.
James Doe is described in the amended suit as a man who spent four years in prison because, at age 20, he had “felony carnal knowledge” of a 14-year-old.
John Doe was convicted at trial, ACLU attorneys Justin Harrison and Ron Wilson told Jackson in court filings. James Doe pleaded guilty.
The new Louisiana law would render John Doe unable to perform his job “as a compliance officer and computer technician at a Louisiana company,” he said in his suit.
“James Doe holds a dangerous, highly specialized job in an industry critical to Louisiana’s economy,” he said in the suit.
Because he often works in remote locations for extended periods, James Doe added, he “depends almost exclusively upon the Internet for news while at work.”
The new state law “impermissibly criminalizes otherwise constitutionally protected” free speech, the ACLU attorneys argue in the suit.
Murrill, Wall, and Assistant Attorneys General Bridget B. Denicola, John W. Sinquefield, S. Kyle Duncan and Emalie A. Boyce have asked Jackson to dismiss the suit at John Doe’s and James Doe’s cost.
Jackson has ordered all parties not to reveal the true names of John Doe and James Doe.