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State v. Logue

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

April 12, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellant
v.
PAUL FREEMAN LOGUE Appellee

         Appealed from the Third Judicial District Court for the Parish of Lincoln, Louisiana Lower Court Case No. 67, 831 Honorable Cynthia Tregle Woodard, Judge

          JOHN F.K. BELTON Counsel for Appellant

          TRACY W. HOUCK LEWIS A. JONES Counsel for Appellee By: James G. Buckley

          Before WILLIAMS, DREW, and GARRETT, JJ.

          DREW, J.

         Paul Freeman Logue was charged by information with third offense possession of marijuana. La. R.S. 40:966(E). The trial court quashed the bill, applying retroactively a 2015 amendment to Subsection (E)(1). The state appeals, arguing that this retroactive application was error. We reverse and remand.

         FACTS

         On September 11, 2015, Logue was issued a summons for possession of marijuana. He was billed with possession of marijuana-third offense, a felony. The bill listed two predicate offenses.[1]

         The defendant moved to quash the bill of information, alleging that "changes in the law, embodied in House Bill 149, which amended [La. R.S. 40:966(E)], do not indicate that the defendant committed the offense alleged."[2]

         At the hearing held on April 5, 2016, the defense counsel argued:

[W]e believe that based on the intent of the legislature in changing the law that Mr. Logue should indeed only be billed as a second offender at most.
. . . . Based on the 1994 charge and the great span of time between that and then the - the two more recent charges, it's our belief that Mr. Logue should be charged only as a second offense which, under the new law is a misdemeanor and as such we should ask that his . . . Bill of Information be quashed.
The state responded that the statute did not apply to the 1993 offense.[3]

         The trial court took the matter under advisement. On May 17, 2017, the court provided written reasons for quashing the bill on four grounds:

• There is no clear legislative intent extant as to whether the amendments were intended to apply prospectively or retroactively;
• Statutory changes can be either substantive, procedural or interpretive;
State v. Boniface, 369 So.2d 115 (La. 1979), provides guidance here;[4]and
• Finding the amendment to be procedural, retroactive application is required.

         The state applied for supervisory review. We granted to docket as an appeal.

         DISCUSSION

         The Parties' Contentions

         By its first assignment of error, the state urges that the court erred, as a matter of law, by granting defendant's motion to quash based upon an improper and unnecessary analysis of the retroactivity of laws rather than properly applying the amended portions of La. R.S. 40:966(E)(1) to those offenses clearly defined by the words of the statute. The state argues:

• a plain reading of La. R.S. 40:966(E)(1)(a)(i)-(ii) refers to "certain offenses, " namely possession of marijuana on a first conviction, referencing a specified punishment for a specified offense;
• La. R.S. 40:966(E)(1)(a)(iii) thus applies only to one specific situation;[5]
• since the plain language of the statute is unambiguous, the trial court erred in even discussing the second prong of ...

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