EAST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A website with information that targets a district attorney has prompted questions about whether the statements on the page can be considered defamation.
A lifelong West Feliciana Parish resident created the site, which targets District Attorney Sam D'Aquilla. At first glance,
appears to be like most political websites. But, when one takes a closer look, they will read phrases like "sharing my true character with the Felicianas" and "How long must we let this conduct continue?"
The site takes jabs on professional and personal levels at Sam D'Aquilla, the current district attorney for East Feliciana Parish and West Feliciana Parish. The person who bought the domain name for the site after it expired asked for his identity to be concealed out of fear of retaliation. He will be referred to as "John" throughout this report.
"It's a good ole boy network, but the good ole boys just aren't so good up there," 'John' said.
D'Aquilla refused an interview, but said he wants to put an end to this "nonsense." He used the site when he ran for district attorney six years ago and let it expire when he won his second term. Last week, "John" decided to buy the page.
"Good form to put out information to the people that perhaps they don't know," 'John' explained.
"John" highlights D'Aquilla's services by stating the DA has attorneys working on his "private agenda" and services to "help you get on the path to ruin." The second navigation button reads "Practice Areas" and includes a section of the page titled "Targeted Prosecution." There is a statement under that heading that reads, "If you're a member of my special 'friends and family' plan, I can take care of that for you." There is another navigation button titled "Mission Statement" and includes information that "John" claims he copied from D'Aquilla's original, but made some changes like stating his office provides comfort for those who "have contributed significantly to my campaigns."
"You want to be in the crowd, you can buy into the crowd," 'John' said.
D'Aquilla said he's trying to get a subpoena to find out who set up and is maintaining the site, which is why the Home page includes a phrase in yellow in all caps that reads "ILLEGAL ABUSE OF SUBPOENA POWERS."
As for "John," there is a question about whether he has done anything illegal which could warrant a subpoena.
"I would say it does not appear to be," attorney Justin Ourso said.
According to Ourso, a veteran lawyer, in order for it to be illegal, "John" had to have violated copyright infringement or trademark. However, D'Aquilla said he had neither on the site. Plus, Ourso said the First Amendment protects speech, unless you can prove the statements were made with reckless disregard for the truth when dealing with a public figure like D'Aquilla.
"I would say in this case, it probably depends primarily on whether a false statement has been made on the website," Ourso explained.
However, "John" said there is nothing on the site that is false or illegal and he plans to keep the site up.
"Maybe improve the bad ole system we have in St. Francisville," Ourso added.
D'Aquilla said he is trying to get the website removed. He added he has not reached out to any law enforcement agency as of yet.
Attempts were made to contact David Opperman, D'Aquilla's campaign opponent, but he did not return any calls for comment.