STATE EX REL. JOHN ESTEEN
STATE OF LOUISIANA
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL, FIFTH CIRCUIT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON. IN RE: Esteen, John; -- Plaintiff; Applying For Supervisory and/or Remedial Writs, Parish of Jefferson, 24th Judicial District Court Div. K, No. 98-6122; to the Court of Appeal, Fifth Circuit, No. 13-KH-769;
Jefferson D. Hughes, III, Jeannette Theriot Knoll, Greg G. Guidry, Marcus R. Clark, Scott J. Crichton. JOHNSON, C. J., would grant defendant's writ application and assigns reasons. WEINER, J., would grant.
[2013-2672 La. 1] JOHNSON, C. J., would grant defendant's writ application and assigns reasons:
I would grant this application to answer a question that potentially affects scores of inmates serving long sentences in Louisiana. In my view, relator's sentence has been rendered illegal by the ameliorative sentencing provisions of La. R.S. 15:308(B). I would remand to the district court for review of the illegal sentence.
In 2001, the legislature reduced the penalties for a variety of offenses including narcotics offenses formerly carrying life sentences and third and fourth offender mandatory life penalties. See 2001 La. Acts 403 (eff. 6/15/01). Act 403 § 6 provided that the amendment " shall only have prospective effect." The same legislative act also created the Risk Review Panel, which had " the duty to evaluate the risk of danger to society which each person convicted of a [non-violent] crime...may present if released from confinement." R.S. 15:574.22(G).
Despite the general rule that ameliorative legislation is to be applied prospectively, the legislature subsequently enacted R.S. 15:308 by 2006 La. Acts 45, which provided for retroactive application. As enacted in 2006, La. R.S. 15:308 [2013-2672 La. 2] provided:
Ameliorative penalty provisions; retroactivity; amendment of sentence; time limitations
A. (1) The legislature hereby declares that the provisions of Act No. 403 of the 2001 Regular Session of the Legislature provided for more lenient penalty provisions for certain enumerated crimes and that these penalty provisions were to be applied prospectively.
(2) The legislature hereby further declares that Act No. 45 of the 2002 First Extraordinary Session of the Legislature revised errors in penalty provisions for certain statutes which were amended by Act No. 403 of the 2001 Regular Session of the Legislature and that these revisions were to be applied retroactively to June 15, 2001, and applied to any crime committed subject to such revised penalties on and after such date.
B. In the interest of fairness in sentencing, the legislature hereby further declares that the more lenient penalty provisions provided for in Act No. 403 of the 2001 Regular Session of the Legislature and Act No. 45 of the 2002 First Extraordinary Session of the Legislature shall apply to the
class of persons who committed crimes, who were convicted, or who were sentenced according to the following provisions: R.S. 14:56.2(D), 62.1(B) and (C), 69.1(B)(2), 70.1(B), 82(D), 91.7(C), 92.2(B), 92.3(C), 106(G)(2)(a) and (3), 106.1(C)(2), 119(D), 119.1(D), 122.1(D), 123(C)(1) and (2), 352, and 402.1(B), R.S. 15:529.1(A)(1)(b)(ii) and (c)(ii), 1303(B), and 1304(B), R.S. 27:262(C), (D), and (E), 309(C), and 375(C), R.S. 40:966(B), (C)(1), (D), (E), (F) and (G), 967(B)(1), (2), (3), and (4)(a) and (b), and (F)(1), (2), and (3), 979(A), 981, 981.1, 981.2(B) and (C), and ...