“When Prosecutors Take Liberties With the First Amendment”
Here’s a juicy one: Jim Letten, the U.S. Attorney in New Orleans, was an aggressive prosecutor of corruption for the past 12 years. He had been the longest serving federal prosecutor in a place where his talents were reportedly in need.
One of his more recent targets was Fred Heebe, a local landfill magnate and one-time candidate for Letten’s position. In 2011, Letten indicted Heebe’s chief financial
officer, Dominick Fazzio, on charges of fraud and money laundering – presumably to gain his cooperation against Heebe. But in March of the same year, Heebe – get this – filed a defamation lawsuit against a commenter on nola.com (a news website affiliated with The Times-Picayune) who identified himself only as “Henry L. Mencken1951,” and whose posts say things like “Heebe comes from a long line of corruptors” – hardly the kind of thing Heebe lawyers, if he is ever indicted, would want the jury pool to have read.