FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 475-646,
SECTION "C" Honorable Benedict J. Willard, Judge
A. Cannizzaro, Jr. DISTRICT ATTORNEY Donna Andrieu Assistant
District Attorney Chief of Appeals Donald G. Cassels, III
Assistant District Attorney PARISH OF ORLEANS COUNSEL FOR
APPELLANT, STATE OF LOUISIANA.
Christopher A. Aberle LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, DELVIN WILLIAMS
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro
Tempore, Judge Terrel J. Broussard, Pro Tempore
J. Broussard, Judge Pro Tempore.
State asserts that the trial court abused its discretion in
granting two motions to quash in favor of the defendant,
Delvin Williams. For the reasons herein we vacate the trial
court's ruling and remand this matter in accordance with
appeal addresses the trial court's ruling quashing the
charges for failure to prosecute within the legal time frame.
The facts precipitating the charges are not relevant to this
appeal. All relevant facts are addressed in the discussion
OF THE CASE
consolidated cases, the State appeals the trial court's
August 4, 2015 decision granting motions to quash charges
against Williams. On February 7, 2008, the State filed a bill
of information in case no. 475-646 charging Williams with
possessing cocaine, in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(C)(2). He
was originally arrested on this charge on August 31, 2007,
and released on a $5, 000 bond on September 6, 2007. The
address Williams provided on the bond he signed was
"2415 St. Bernard", New Orleans, Louisiana, without
a zip code. Williams was arraigned and pled not guilty to the
charge in case no. 475-646 on February 26, 2008. On March 5,
2008 Williams filed a motion for discovery in case no.
was arrested for possession of marijuana on January 9, 2008.
On February 26, 2008, the State filed a bill of information
in case no. 476-218charging him with a third offense for
possession of marijuana, a violation of then La. R.S.
40:966(E)(3). Before the bill of information was filed,
Williams was released on a $2, 000 bond on January 11, 2008.
The address he provided was "2415 St. Bernard
Ave.", New Orleans, Louisiana 70119. Williams was not
arraigned in case no. 476-218 until April 24, 2015, when he
pled not guilty.
case no. 475-646 appears to have originally been allotted to
Section I. It was subsequently transferred to - or
"RECEIVED" in - Section C on April 24, 2008. Case
no. 476-218 was "RECEIVED" in Section C on June 30,
docket masters contained in the record reflect an extensive
period of no activity in either case. The 476-218 docket
shows that Williams failed to appear for a July 14, 2008
status hearing and a July 25, 2008 motions hearing. On July
25, 2008, the docket master notes, "ALIAS CAPIAS WITH NO
BOND." The docket master shows a gap of more than six
years before an April 23, 2015 entry notes "FILED ARREST
ON CAPIAS NOTIFICATION." Williams was arrested on April
14, 2015. The 475-646 docket master also reflects that
Williams was not present at July 14 and July 25, 2008
hearings, and was arrested on April 14, 2015.
docket masters indicate that on July 10, 2015, defense
counsel appeared in the trial court and filed evidentiary and
discovery motions. The trial court set these motions for
hearing for August 4, 2015.
filed motions to quash charges in both cases date-stamped
July 30, 2015. On July 31, 2015, the docket master noted the
filing of the motions to quash. In the motions to quash,
Williams stated that he was arrested on other charges in
Jefferson Parish in January of 2009, and remanded to
Jefferson Parish Prison on March 3, 2009. On April 2,
2009, Williams received a four-year sentence for the
Jefferson Parish charges.
August 4, 2015 hearing, the State asserted that it received
the motions to quash on Friday, July 31, 2015 and requested
an additional "day or two" to file oppositions.
Nothing in the docket master reflects that the motions had
been set for hearing. In denying the request and granting the
motions, the trial court reasoned:
What will tomorrow do for your argument? What support will
tomorrow have for your argument that today does not? Because
I'm looking at the law and it's pretty clear and we
recently had this same issue. And I'm not going to get
myself into any trouble, but I think the panel was two to one
in favor of a quashal because the time limits were such that
you've got to issue prosecution within a certain time
limit. You've got to get them to trial. And if the
defendant was available by serving - even if he was serving
time in a different jurisdiction the law says that
there's still a two year limit to get him to trial.
trial court continued in reference to Williams'
incarceration in Jefferson parish: "I'm not knocking
the fact that you made efforts to serve. But if the person
that you were trying to serve was somewhere else, I don't
know who gets the blame there." In response to the
State's assertion that it may not have the duty to
investigate whether a defendant is in custody under State
v. Romar, 2007-2140 (La. 7/1/08), 985 So.2d 722, the
trial court stated, "I'm going to let you take that
up. And I'm tired of being the guinea pig there. But I
believe the law is clear." It is the denial of the
motion to quash that the State now appeals.
State raises one issue on appeal, that the trial court abused
its discretion in granting the defense's motions to quash
without allowing the State to meaningfully contest the
allegations raised therein. The State further asserts that it
could have effectively opposed the motions by arguing: 1)
case no. 475-646 has been suspended since Williams filed a
motion for discovery on March 5, 2008; and 2) both cases were
interrupted under La. C.Cr.P. art. 579(A)(2) because it was
impossible to perfect notice on Williams at the address
listed on his bonds.
court rulings of motions to quash are reviewed for abuse of
discretion. State v. Brown, 2015-1319, p. 7 (La.App.
4 Cir. 4/20/16), 193 So.3d 267, 271.
period to prosecute ...