On Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court, In and for Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana. Trial Court No. C625992. The Honorable Kay Bates, Judge Presiding.
Jauvé Collins, Angola, Louisiana, Plaintiff/Appellant, In Proper Person.
William L. Kline, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Attorney for Defendant/Appellee, Louisiana Department of Public, Safety and Corrections.
BEFORE: McDONALD, CRAIN, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.
[2014 0675 La.App. 1 Cir. 2]
Jauvé Collins, an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC), appeals the dismissal of his petition for judicial review of Disciplinary Board Appeal number LSP-2012-3439. We vacate the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings.
Collins filed a petition for judicial review in the district court asserting that he utilized DPSC's administrative remedy procedure (ARP) to make a complaint regarding mishandling of his certified mail. The record contains documentation showing that DPSC accepted Collins' complaint numbered LSP-2012-3439, and indicated it would issue a response within forty days. Collins asserts that he received no response from DPSC, and proceeded to second step review. Again receiving no response, Collins filed his petition for judicial review in district court.
Pursuant to Louisiana Revised Statute 15:1178A, the matter was assigned to a Commissioner of the district court for screening. In both an initial and amended screening report, the Commissioner recommended that the suit be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because of Collins' failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by Louisiana Revised Statute 15:1172. The district court adopted the Commissioner's report as its reasons and dismissed the suit without prejudice. Collins now appeals.
The Corrections Administrative Remedy Procedure (CARP) set forth in Louisiana Revised Statutes 15:1171-1179 provides that DPSC may adopt an administrative remedy procedure for receiving, hearing, and disposing of any and [2014 0675 La.App. 1 Cir. 3] all complaints and grievances by offenders against the state, the governor, DPSC, or its employees. The adopted procedures are the exclusive remedy for handling the complaints and grievances to which they apply. La. R.S. 15:1171.
The rules and procedures promulgated by DPSC are set forth in Section 325 of Title 22, Part I of the Louisiana Administrative Code. Pursuant to these rules, offenders must exhaust a two-step ARP before they can proceed with a suit in federal or state court. See La. R.S. 15:1176; LAC 22:I.325F(3)(a)(viii); Dickens v. Louisiana Corr. Inst. for Women, 11-0176 (La.App. 1 Cir. 9/14/11), 77 So.3d 70, 74; Edwards v. Bunch. 07-1421 (La.App. 1 Cir. 3/26/08), 985 So.2d 149, 152-53. When an inmate has initiated the first step of an ARP, the warden is required to respond within 40 days from the date the request is received at the first step, using the first step response. LAC 22:I.325J(1)(a)(ii). An inmate who is not satisfied with the warden's first step response may proceed to the second step ARP and appeal to the secretary of DPSC. The final decision of the secretary or ...