Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No.
606, 783 Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Judge Presiding
Derrick Pierre Angie, LA Plaintiff-Appellant, In Proper
Benjamin D. Beychok Baton Rouge, LA Attorney for
Defendant-Appellee, East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, J J.
appeal challenges the dismissal of an inmate's petition
for writ of mandamus directing the East Baton Rouge Parish
Clerk of Court to provide a public records request.
Pierre is an inmate who has been confined in the custody of
the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections at
Rayburn Correction Center in Angle, Louisiana since 1997. On
November 10, 2011, Mr. Pierre filed a pro se
petition for writ of mandamus in the Nineteenth Judicial
District Court. In his petition, Mr. Pierre alleged that he
had previously mailed a public records request to the East
Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court on May 19, 2010, but the
Clerk of Court failed to respond. In his request, Mr. Pierre
sought the following documents: (1) a reproduction of the
entire District Attorney file for Docket No. 6-97-846; (2) a
reproduction of the entire District Attorney file for Docket
No. 6-98-961; and (3) a reproduction of all adjudicated and
settled criminal litigation involving the victim of Mr.
Pierre's 1997 conviction for attempted aggravated rape.
Clerk of Court answered Mr. Pierre's petition, averring
that the requests were overly broad and that, according to
the District Attorney, all of Mr. Pierre's remedies were
finalized for over three years, and the District Attorney no
longer maintained the files that Mr. Pierre sought to have
reproduced. In other words, the Clerk of Court simply did not
have access to the requested records since they had been
destroyed. Moreover, the Clerk of Court maintained that,
pursuant to an exception under the Public Records Law at La.
R.S. 44:3l.l,  Mr. Pierre was not entitled to public
records unless they are related to grounds for which he could
have filed for post conviction relief under La. Code Crim. P.
hearings were held regarding Mr. Pierre's mandamus
action. The Commissioner for the district court recommended that
the mandamus petition be dismissed, because the evidence was
clear that the records request was made fourteen years after
Mr. Pierre's criminal conviction was final and the
District Attorney's office had authority to destroy the
criminal records in accord with La. R.S.
44:36(E). Since Mr. Pierre offered no evidence to
the contrary, the Commissioner reasoned that the mandamus
petition should be dismissed as there were no available
records that could be provided to Mr. Pierre. Mr. Pierre
filed a traversal of the Commissioner's recommendation;
however, by judgment dated November 17, 2016, the district
court adopted the Commissioner's recommendation and
dismissed Mr. Pierre's mandamus action with prejudice and
at his cost. Mr. Pierre appealed, arguing that the District
Attorney's office did not have authority to destroy his
the right of access to public records is a fundamental right
guaranteed by La. Const, art. XII, § 3. Johnson v.
Stalder, 97-0584 (La.App. 1st Cir. 12/22/98), 754 So.2d
246, 248. An inmate in custody following a felony conviction,
however, is only permitted access to public records if he has
exhausted his appellate remedies and the request is limited
to grounds upon which the inmate could file for post
conviction relief. See La. R.S. 44:31.1. If an
inmate has identified specific constitutional errors in the
proceedings leading to his conviction and sentence, and he
specifies with reasonable particularity the factual basis for
such relief, he thereby meets the initial requirements set
for invoking post conviction relief. See State ex rel.
Bernard v. Criminal Dist. Court Section "J",
94-2247 (La. 4/28/95), 653 So.2d 1174, 1175 (per curiam).
See also La. Code Crim. P. art. 930.3. If an inmate does
not properly file an application for post conviction relief,
then he cannot make a showing of a particularized need for
the documents request. Bernard, 653 So.2d at 1175.
record in this case is void of any evidence that Mr. Pierre
ever filed any application for post conviction relief, much
less identified specific constitutional errors in the
proceedings leading to his conviction and sentence, including
his habitual offender status. Further, the enforcement
provisions of the Public Records Law, found at La. R.S.
44:35, presuppose the existence of the records in the office
of the custodian. Wallace v. Ware, 94-2204 (La.App.
1st Cir. 6/23/95), 657 So.2d 734, 737. Since Mr. Pierre has
not provided evidence that he is actually entitled to the
requested documentation, we conclude that it is of no moment
that the requested records no longer exist due to the
destruction of the files by the District Attorney's