SUPERVISORY WRITS TO THE CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
PARISH OF ORLEANS
JOHNSON, CHIEF JUSTICE.
underlying issue in this case concerns the reasonableness of
a warrantless search of a probationer's residence
conducted by a multi-agency law enforcement task force.
Specifically, we are called upon to determine whether the
search violated Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article
895(A)(13)(a), which provides as a condition of probation
that the defendant agree "to searches of … his
place of residence … at any time, by the probation
officer … assigned to him, with or without a warrant
… when the probation officer … has reasonable
suspicion to believe that the person who is on probation is
engaged in or has been engaged in criminal activity."
review of the law and record, and considering the arguments
of the parties, we hold that the warrantless search of
defendant's residence violated the provisions of Article
895(A)(13)(a) because the search was not conducted by the
probation officer assigned to him. We further find that
violation of this statute constituted an unconstitutional
search under Louisiana Constitution Article I, §5,
requiring exclusion of the evidence pursuant to Louisiana
Code of Criminal Procedure Article 703(C). Thus, we affirm
the ruling of the district court which granted
defendant's motion to suppress the evidence.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
charges against defendant, Avery Julien, stem from a
warrantless search of his residence on March 8, 2016. On that
date, two officers from the New Orleans District of the
Louisiana Department of Probation and Parole, James Bertrand
and Jason Hardy, conducted a "compliance check" at
defendant's home at 6:00 a.m. Officers Bertrand and Hardy
were accompanied by officers from the New Orleans Police
Department and the United States Marshals Gulf Coast Criminal
Fugitive Task Force. Officer Bertrand testified that the
compliance check was conducted in conjunction with the U.S.
Marshals violence reduction operation, "Operation
knocking on the door of Mr. Julien's residence for a
period of time, someone opened the front door and the
officers entered, secured the residence and were directed to
Mr. Julien's bedroom, where Officers Bertrand and Hardy
found Mr. Julien in bed with a female companion. The officers
handcuffed Mr. Julien and the female and escorted them from
the room. Then, while conducting a "protective sweep to
make sure that there were no other individuals in the room,
" Officer Bertrand saw a live nine-millimeter round of
ammunition on the windowsill. Upon locating the ammunition,
the officers deemed they possessed "enough reasonable
suspicion to conduct a search." Officer Hardy discovered
a firearm in the drawer of the nightstand next to where Mr.
Julien was sleeping. The search of the remainder of the
residence yielded a second firearm and accompanying
ammunition. Both weapons were determined to be stolen.
Officers Bertrand and Hardy reported their discovery of the
contraband to a U.S. Marshal on the scene, who then took over
to Officer Bertrand's testimony, neither he nor Officer
Hardy were Mr. Julien's assigned probation officer. They
were conducting compliance checks throughout the city as part
of the Marshals task force and Mr. Julien was put on their
list by the probation department.
April 5, 2016, the State filed a bill of information charging
defendant with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
and illegal possession of a stolen firearm. Defendant filed
various motions, including a motion to suppress the evidence.
The district court held a hearing on November 3, 2016, and
granted the motion to suppress. The district court found the
officers who conducted the search did not have the ability to
conduct a warrantless search under Article 895(A)(13)(a),
noting the probation officers involved were not assigned
to Mr. Julien's case.
court of appeal denied the state's writ application with
reasons. State v. Julien, 16-1223 (La.App.
4 Cir. 3/15/17), __So. 3d__. The court explained that while
any probation officer could presumably conduct a compliance
check pursuant to La. C.Cr. P. art. 895(A)(4),  the agents'
conduct in this case surpassed that contemplated by law when
they entered Mr. Julien's bedroom and handcuffed both him
and his female companion and escorted them out of the room
before viewing the ammunition on the windowsill. Id.
at p. 3. The court noted the state presented no evidence
suggesting reasonable suspicion prior to assembling the law
enforcement team to conduct the compliance check.
Id. The court found that given the totality of the
circumstances, the compliance check was unreasonably
pretextual. The court reasoned:
Agents Bertrand and Hardy should not have been in Mr.
Julien's bedroom and thereby able to view the ammunition
in plain sight. The legality of the search conducted
thereafter was vitiated by the fact that neither Agent
Bertrand, nor Hardy was assigned as Mr. Julien's
probation officer, which triggered La. C.Cr.P. Art.
895(13)(a). Once implicated, La. C.Cr.P. Art. 895(13)(a)
requires that the warrantless search be conducted by the
probation officer assigned to Mr. Julien. It is undisputed
that the probation officer assigned to Mr. Julien was not
Id. at p. 4. The court of appeal found the district
court did not abuse its discretion in granting the motion to
suppress. Id. at p. 5. Judges Ledet and Dysart
concurred in the writ denial, finding the probation
officers' compliance check crossed the line to a
warrantless probation violations search. As such, the state
was required to establish there was a reasonable suspicion
that criminal activity was occurring, but failed to do so.
state's application, we granted supervisory review and
consolidated this case for argument with State v.
Brignac, 17-0448 (La. 5/12/17), 219 So.3d 1107, decided
in a separate opinion issued contemporaneously with this
matter. State v. Julien, 17-0557 (La.
5/12/17), 219 So.3d 1107.
reasons assigned this day in State v. Brignac,
17-448 (La. 10/18/17), __So. 3d.__, we hold La. C.Cr. P. art.
895(A)(13)(a) requires a warrantless search of a probationer
be conducted by the particular probation officer who is
generally and regularly assigned to a particular probationer.