FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-07201,
DIVISION "B" Honorable Regina H. Woods, Judge
Hatcher #89749 PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT/IN PROPER PERSON.
Benjamin J. Biller C. Wm. Bradley, Jr. BRADLEY MURCHISON
KELLY & SHEA LLC COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.
composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Madeleine M.
Landrieu, Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore
L. DYSART, JUDGE
Hatcher, an inmate at the Avoyelles Correctional Center,
appearing herein pro se, appeals the trial
court's judgment sustaining a dilatory exception of
unauthorized use of a summary proceeding and dismissing his
petition for a writ of mandamus. As discussed more fully
herein, the trial court correctly dismissed the writ of
mandamus filed against the defendant, the coroner for Orleans
Parish, Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, M.D. We, therefore, affirm the
trial court's judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
limited record before us reflects the following facts.
28, 2015, Mr. Hatcher filed a "Writ of Mandamus"
(hereafter referred to as the "Writ") against Dr.
Rouse in which he sought to obtain certain unidentified
records or documents. In his Writ, Mr. Hatcher alleges that
he was charged by bill of information "based, in part,
on the forensic evidence that is/was within the custody and
control of [Dr.] Rouse." He then alleges that
"[t]he matter was assigned Item Number H3007087[;]
thereafter various tests were issued and documents prepared
and produced." Mr. Hatcher next alleges that, once his
conviction became final, "the records maintained to
utilize [his] conviction" became "open to public
to his Writ, on June 15, 2015, Mr. Hatcher made a
"second Request" of Dr. Rouse for public records
pursuant to La. R.S. 44:32. Because Dr. Rouse did not respond
to his written request, Mr. Hatcher filed the instant action.
Through this proceeding, Mr. Hatcher sought a finding that
Dr. Rouse "has abrogated the provisions of [La.
R.S.]44:32, " ordering that he comply with Mr.
Hatcher's "request for inspection and production,
" and pay the costs for the proceeding and
"punitive damages in the amount set-forth in the
response to the Writ, Dr. Rouse filed a Dilatory Exception of
Unauthorized Use of Summary Proceeding. In his exception, Dr.
Rouse argued that he had complied with Mr. Hatcher's
request by informing him, by letter dated August 11, 2015,
that he had no records relating to the item number Mr.
Hatcher provided and, more specifically, that the item number
did not correlate to any files contained within the
hearing was held on Dr. Rouse's dilatory exception of
unauthorized use of a summary proceeding and by judgment
dated October 23, 2015, the trial court maintained the
exception and also dismissed Mr. Hatcher's Writ. Mr.
Hatcher then filed an application with this Court for a writ
of supervisory review of the trial court's October 23,
2015 judgment. Finding that the judgment was a final,
appealable judgment, on January 26, 2016, this Court
transferred the writ application to the trial court and
instructed Mr. Hatcher to convert the application to a motion
for appeal. Mr. Hatcher then filed a Motion for Appeal on
February 5, 2016. This appeal followed.
the trial court did not issue reasons for judgment, and none
were requested by either party, at the hearing on the
exception, the trial court commented that, under the
provisions of the Public Records Act, Mr. Hatcher, as a
"person in custody following a felony conviction
following post appellate procedures, " was required to
file his request "in Criminal District Court
through… Post-Conviction Relief Application." The
trial court did not expressly make a determination that Mr.
Hatcher's suit was impermissibly employing a summary
proceeding. While we find that the trial court erred in
granting the dilatory exception of unauthorized use of a
summary proceeding under these circumstances, we find that
the trial court's dismissal of the Writ was not an abuse
of the trial court's discretion, albeit for reasons other
than those assigned by the trial court.
Code of Civil Procedure article 926 A(3) provides for the
dilatory exception of unauthorized use of a summary
proceeding. Dr. Rouse correctly notes our jurisprudence which
indicates that "[t]he proper method of opposing [the]
use [of mandamus] is to raise the dilatory exception urging
the objection of unauthorized use of a summary
proceeding." Martin v. Bonanno, 421 So.2d 359,
362 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1982). However, this exception is only
designed to test whether an action should proceed in a
summary manner rather than by ordinary proceeding.
See, e.g., Cent. Cmty. Sch.
Bd. v. E. Baton Rouge Par. Sch. Bd., 08-0036, p. 11
(La.App. 1 Cir. 6/6/08), 991 So.2d 1102, 1110 (the
"determination of the issue of the Central Board's
rights, if any, to these tax funds is not appropriate in a
mandamus proceeding… relief is available through
ordinary proceedings"); Judson v. Davis,
04-1699, p. 10 (La.App. 1 Cir. 6/29/05), 916 So.2d 1106, 1114
(in determining whether it was "procedurally improper to
assert an action for corporate dissolution in a
reconventional demand to a mandamus action, " the court
noted that "the mode of procedure for [this] action
… is an ordinary proceeding, rather than a summary
proceeding); Melancon v. Police Jury of Lafayette,
301 So.2d 715, 719 (La.App. 3d Cir. 1974) (in an action
against "Police Jury and the Planning Commission to
revoke its approval of the subdivision plat, " the court
held that the plaintiff appellant was "not entitled to a
writ of mandamus but must seek his relief by ordinary
Code of Civil Procedure article 2592 specifically provides
that mandamus shall be tried as a summary ...