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Boudreaux v. Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

June 2, 2017

GARY BOUDREAUX
v.
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS

         On Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 640, 825 Honorable Donald R. Johnson, Judge Presiding

          Gary Boudreaux Angola, LA Plaintiff-Appellant, In Proper Person

          Terri L. Cannon Angola, LA Attorney for Defendant-Appellee, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, THERIOT, AND CHUTZ, JJ.

          HIGGINBOTHAM, J.

         In this appeal, Gary Boudreaux challenges the district court's judgment dismissing his motion for reconsideration. Specifically, Mr. Boudreaux contends that the district court erred in not allowing his writ of mandamus to be converted to a petition for judicial review.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On July 15, 2015, Mr. Boudreaux, an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections ("DPSC"), filed a writ of mandamus in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court to compel DPSC to respond to his lost personal property claim that he filed on February 2, 2015. In his lost property claim, Mr. Boudreaux contends that his personal hobbycraft, including several tools, was lost. After being served with Mr. Boudreaux's mandamus request, DPSC accepted his lost property claim on July 31, 2015, and stated that it would respond within forty days. While waiting on a response from DPSC, on October 1, 2015, Mr. Boudreaux filed an amended petition requesting that in the interest of judicial economy his writ of mandamus be converted into a petition for judicial review. Specifically, Mr. Boudreaux claimed that DPSC had deliberately refused to consider his Administrative Remedy Procedure ("ARP") claim, and he submitted that he was therefore legally entitled to move on to the next step in the judicial review process. On November 13, 2015, DPSC sent Mr. Boudreaux a response denying his lost property claim. According to Mr. Boudreaux, he then proceeded to the second step in the administrative process on November 16, 2015. However, the record before us does not contain any ruling or action, pending or otherwise, taken by the secretary of DPSC.

         On January 27, 2016, DPSC filed an exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction asserting that because DPSC had answered Mr. Boudreaux's lost property claim as requested, the mandamus request was moot, and thus the district court no longer had subject matter jurisdiction. Mr. Boudreaux responded and again requested that the court consider his motion to convert his writ of mandamus into a petition for judicial review.

         The action was initially referred to the Commissioner for judicial screening pursuant to La. R.S. 15:1178 and La. R.S. 15:1188. On April 4, 2016, the Commissioner issued a screening report finding that the mandamus request was moot leaving the district court without subject matter jurisdiction to further entertain the suit. Therefore, the Commissioner recommended that Mr. Boudreaux's suit be dismissed, but that the cost of the suit be borne by DPSC because of its failure to timely complete the administrative process necessitated Mr. Boudreaux's suit for mandamus.

         After de novo review of the entire record, including the Commissioner's screening report and Mr. Boudreaux's timely filed traversal, the district court rendered judgment on May 4, 2016, adopting the recommendations set forth in the Commissioner's screening report, dismissing the matter without prejudice, and assessing all costs to DPSC. Thereafter, Mr. Boudreaux filed a motion for reconsideration[1] of the May 4, 2016 judgment contending, that the district court did not consider his request to convert his writ of mandamus to a petition for judicial review.

         The Commissioner's screening report on the motion for reconsideration recommended that Mr. Boudreaux's motion be denied because Mr. Boudreaux should have filed a petition for judicial review within thirty days of receiving his second step response as allowed by La. R.S. 15:1177(A), and he did not do so. Furthermore, the Commissioner pointed out that because it had twice considered and denied Mr. Boudreaux's request to convert his mandamus application to a petition for judicial review, his motion for reconsideration should likewise be denied. On May 25, 2016, the district court signed a judgment denying Mr. Boudreaux's motion for reconsideration. It is from this judgment that Mr. Boudreaux appeals, contending that the district court erred in not converting his writ of mandamus into a petition for judicial review.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Procedures set out in the Corrections Administrative Remedy Procedure (CARP) provide the exclusive remedy available to inmates that arise while an offender is within the custody of DPSC with appellate review first at the district court and then the court of appeal. See La. R.S. 15:1171(B) and La. R.S. 15:1177(A)(10). The district court is precluded from entertaining an inmate's ARP complaint until he has exhausted the remedies provided to him by the ARP process. See La. R.S. 15:1172(B) and (C). If suit is filed prior to exhaustion of administrative remedies, the district court lacks jurisdiction over the matter, and the suit shall be dismissed without prejudice. See La. R.S. 15:1184(A)(2) and La. R.S. 15:1172(C); Rochon ...


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