Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana No. C614063 The
Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Judge Presiding
Chester Onezime Angola, Louisiana Plaintiff/ Appellant, In
L. Cannon Angola, Louisiana Attorney for Defendant/ Appellee,
Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.
Chester Onezime, an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana
Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC), housed at
Louisiana State Penitentiary located in Angola, Louisiana,
appeals a judgment of the district court that dismissed his
petition for judicial review with prejudice. Based on our
review of the record, we affirm the district court's
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Onezime filed a petition for judicial review in the
Nineteenth Judicial District Court (19th JDC) seeking review
of a lost property claim No. LSP-2012-1246 in accordance with
the Louisiana Corrections Administrative Remedy Procedure
("CARP"), La. R.S. 15:1171 et seq. Mr.
Onezime disputes DPSC's final agency decision denying his
request for property loss. Mr. Onezime is in the custody of
DPSC and on January 13, 2012, was found in possession of a
cellphone, which is considered contraband. For this rule
violation, Mr. Onezime, who was housed in the main prison,
was sentenced to the Camp J Management Program. On January
13, 2012, Mr. Onezime's personal property was packed into
two boxes and with tamper proof seals numbered 57082 and
57083. On this same date, he was moved from the main prison
to an administrative segregation area until he was
transferred to Camp J on January 26, 2012. Mr. Onezime signed
an acknowledgment that the two boxes with tamper proof seals
numbered 57082 and 57083 were intact at this
time. Camp J did not permit Mr. Onezime to keep
all the personal property that was contained in the two
boxes, so the items he was not allowed to have at Camp J were
placed in two green army bags with tamper proof seals
numbered 68883 and 68890. Mr. Onezime claims that when the
bags were returned to him on April 24, 2012, numerous items
of personal property were missing, namely, clothing, a radio,
and headphones, and he filed this ARP, which was originally
denied by the warden.
warden's decision notes that besides the fact that Mr.
Onezime acknowledged on January 26, 2012, that the tamper
proof seals numbered 57082 and 57083 on the two boxes were
intact at the time of delivery, there was no indication that
Mr. Onezime complained of missing property at the time of
delivery. Furthermore, the investigation revealed that once
at Camp J, Mr. Onezime was given his property contained in
the two boxes, except for items he was not allowed to have at
Camp J, which were placed in two green bags.
Onezime appealed to the Secretary of DPSC, who denied the
claim for failing to prove that a loss occurred. He then
filed a petition for judicial review in the district court
seeking to be compensated for his lost property. The 19th JDC
Commissioner (Commissioner) issued a recommendation
that the final administrative decision be affirmed. The
Commissioner reasoned that there was no evidence in the
record to substantiate a loss, so Mr. Onezime failed to meet
his burden of proof. The district court adopted the
recommendation of the Commissioner after considering the
administrative record, the Commissioner's Report, and the
traversal filed by Mr. Onezime. It is from this judgment
dated October 24, 2016, that Mr. Onezime appeals.
Revised Statute 15:1177(A)(9) sets forth the appropriate
standard of review by the district court, which functions as
an appellate court when reviewing the DPSC's
administrative decisions. Judicial review is mandated to be
conducted by the district court without a jury and must be
confined to the record. La. R.S. 15:1177(A)(5). Specifically,
the court may reverse or modify the administrative decision
only if substantial rights of the appellant have been
prejudiced because the administrative findings are: (1) in
violation of constitutional or statutory provisions, (2) in
excess of the statutory authority of the agency, (3) made
upon unlawful procedure, (4) affected by other error of law,
(5) arbitrary, capricious or characterized by an abuse of
discretion, or (6) manifestly erroneous in view of the
reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole
record. La. R.S. 15:1177(A)(9); Lightfoot v.
Stalder, 2000-1120 (La.App. 1 Cir. 6/22/01), 808 So.2d
710, 715-716, writ denied, 2001-2295 (La. 8/30/02),
823 So.2d 957.
review of the district court's judgment under La. R.S.
15:1177, no deference is owed by the court of appeal to the
factual findings or legal conclusions of the district court,
just as no deference is owed by the Louisiana Supreme Court
to factual findings or legal conclusions of the court of
appeal. McCoy v. Stalder, 99-1747 (La.App. 1 Cir.
9/22/00), 770 So.2d 447, 450-51.
brief, Mr. Onezime asserts that he was not present on January
13, 2012, when his property was initially packed into two
boxes by Major M. Laborde and Captain Leon Jenkins. He also
claims that when he was moved to Camp J, it was the
responsibility of the security officers to inventory his
personal property. Mr. Onezime ...