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State v. $29

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

August 31, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
$29, 940.00 IN U.S. CURRENCY

         SUPERVISORY WRIT FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF CALCASIEU, DISTRICT COURT DOCKET NO. 2016-1904 HONORABLE MICHAEL CANADAY, JUDGE

          John F. DeRosier District Attorney Fourteenth Judicial District Robert S. Kleinschmidt, Jr. Assistant District Attorney COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/RELATOR: State of Louisiana

          Leo Caillier COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT: Lenard Leo

          Court composed of John D. Saunders, Shannon J. Gremillion, and John E. Conery, Judges.

          JOHN E. CONERY JUDGE

         PETITION FOR SUPERVISORY WRITS

         Plaintiff-Relator, the State of Louisiana, seeks supervisory writs from the judgment of the Fourteenth Judicial District Court, Parish of Calcasieu, the Honorable G. Michael Canaday presiding, which denied the State's peremptory exception of no standing and/or motion to strike in this cash forfeiture proceeding. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court's ruling and grant the writ and make it peremptory. We hereby grant the State's peremptory exception of no standing and for motion to strike and dismiss defendant/respondent Lenard Leo's claim to the $29, 940.00 in U.S. currency with prejudice at respondent's cost.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         This forfeiture proceeding involves the seizure of $29, 940 in cash from the glove box of a Mercedes Benz on or about March 13, 2016. On that date, an officer with the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force executed a traffic stop of the vehicle and identified Lenard Leo (Leo) as the driver. During the stop, the officer observed that Leo's hands were shaking and that he started sweating while being questioned. Leo also gave conflicting stories about his travel plans, but indicated that he was not in possession of anything illegal or any large amounts of U.S. currency. Based on his suspicions, the officer deployed his K-9 to examine the vehicle. After the K-9 gave a positive indication of the presence of narcotic odor on the vehicle, the officer executed a search, which revealed an aftermarket compartment under the passenger seat and a locked glove box, the key for which Leo claimed not to have. The vehicle was then transported to the Combined AntiDrug Team Office, and a further search revealed that, while the aftermarket compartment was empty, the glove box contained eight large bundles of U.S. currency totaling $29, 940.

         That same day, Leo was served with a notice of pending forfeiture for $27, 940. A subsequent notice for the remaining $2, 000 was later mailed to him. Thereafter, Leo filed two "Claim[s] of Seized Property" pursuant to La.R.S. 40:2610: one for the $27, 940 and the other for the $2, 000. On June 20, 2016, the State filed a peremptory exception of no standing and/or motion to strike based on Leo's failure to adhere to the provisions of La.R.S. 40:2610. After hearing and taking the matter under advisement, the trial court denied the State's exception and/or motion finding: "Defendant's Notice of Filing Claim and Claim of Seized Property meet the minimum requirements set out in [La.R.S.] 40:2610." The State now seeks review of the trial court's judgment.

         SUPERVISORY RELIEF

         A court of appeal has plenary power to exercise supervisory jurisdiction over trial courts and may do so at any time, according to the discretion of the court. When the trial court's ruling is arguably incorrect, a reversal will terminate the litigation, and there is no dispute of fact to be resolved, judicial efficiency and fundamental fairness to the litigants dictate that the merits of the application for supervisory writs should be decided in an attempt to avoid the waste of time and expense of a possibly useless future trial on the merits. Herlitz Const. Co., Inc. v. Hotel Investors of New Iberia, Inc., 396 So.2d 878 (La.1981) (per curiam).

         ON THE MERITS

         To have standing, a plaintiff must assert an adequate interest in himself, which the law recognizes, against a defendant having a substantial adverse interest. Howard v. Adm'rs of Tulane Educ. Fund, 07-2224 (La. 7/1/08), 986 So.2d 47. An action can only be brought by a person having a real and actual interest, which he asserts. La.Code Civ.P. art. 681. A motion to strike is provided for in La.Code Civ.P. art. 964, which states, "[t]he court on motion of a party or on its own motion may at any time and after a hearing order stricken from any pleading any insufficient demand or defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." "A court must deny a motion to strike if there is any question ...


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