STATE OF LOUISIANA, THROUGH ORLEANS PARISH CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT, CLERK OF COURT, ARTHUR MORRELL
THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS THROUGH ITS MAYOR, MITCHELL J. LANDRIEU
FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2016-09578,
DIVISION "C" Honorable Sidney H. Cates, Judge
Bandaries MADRO BANDARIES, P.L.C. COUNSEL FOR
J. Swensek Chief Deputy City Attorney Rebecca H. Dietz CITY
ATTORNEY COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE
composed of Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano, Judge Sandra Cabrina
Jenkins, Judge Paula A. Brown
A. Brown, Judge
the State of Louisiana, through Orleans Parish Criminal
District Court, Clerk of Court, Arthur Morrell
("Clerk"), appeals the district court's
judgment(s) which denied his Petition for Writ of Mandamus
("the Petition") and Motion for New Trial in favor
of Appellee, the City of New Orleans, through its Mayor,
Mitchell J. Landrieu ("the City"). For the reasons
that follow, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
principal issue on appeal between these parties-whether the
City has met its statutory duty to fund the Clerk's
Office-has been before this Court on three prior
occasions. To explain the extensive history behind
this litigation, we adopt many of the facts outlined in
State of Louisiana v. City of New Orleans,
2014-0421, pp. 1-4 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/1/14), 151 So.3d 714-16
("Clerk II") as follows:
This matter comes before this Court after a remand to the
district court in State ex rel. Orleans Parish Criminal
Dist. Court v. City of New Orleans ex rel. Landrieu,
2012-1756 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/23/13), 126 So.3d 762');">126 So.3d 762 [(See
Clerk I)]. The facts giving rise to the first appeal
were summarized as follows:
During 2012, a budget was proposed for the City to provide
funding for the operation of the Clerk's Office,
including certain personnel. After the 2012 budget was
approved, Chief Administrative Officer, Andrew Kopplin
("Mr. Kopplin"), informed the Clerk of Court in a
March 2012 letter that the City intended to "hold back
... over two percent" of the funding appropriated for
the Clerk of Court for the 2012 fiscal year "in order to
mitigate budget risks to the city." Following the
City's Revenue Estimating Conference in June 2012, Mr.
Kopplin sent a letter in July to the Clerk of Court
indicating that Mr. Kopplin was "directing the city
budget office to reduce the [Clerk of Court's] spending
authority by 3.8 percent." Mr. Kopplin further stated in
the letter that pursuant to his direction the temporary
"hold back" would be "a permanent
In October, the Clerk of Court informed Mr. Kopplin that the
Clerk's Office did not have sufficient funds to buy
office supplies. Consequently, Mr. Kopplin released
additional funds to the Clerk of Court in order to purchase
necessary office supplies.
Thereafter, the Clerk of Court filed a petition for writ of
mandamus in the trial court alleging the City abused its
discretion and acted arbitrarily and capriciously in refusing
to fund the operations of the Clerk's Office. The Clerk
of Court further alleged that state law mandates the City to
pay various funds including the salaries of his office's
employees in addition to other operating expenses. The City
filed an exception of no cause of action alleging that the
remedy of mandamus was not available in this case because the
act of approving expenditures is inherently discretionary
pursuant to the Home Rule Charter, which the trial court
denied. After a trial on the merits, the trial court
concluded that the Clerk of Court failed to establish how the
City's discretionary decision to reduce the budget of the
Clerk's Office under the Home Rule Charter was an abuse
of discretion. Accordingly, the trial court denied the Clerk
of Court's petition for writ of mandamus. The Clerk of
Court then filed a motion for new trial, which was denied.
Id., 2012-1756, pp. 2-3, 126 So.3d at 764.
The Clerk of Court appealed the trial court's denial of
its request for a mandamus. During the pendency of that
appeal, the Louisiana Legislature enacted La. R.S. 13:1381.7.
This statute notes that "adequate funding of the office
of Clerk of the Criminal District Court for the parish of
Orleans is necessary for the efficient performance of the
powers and duties required of a judicial officer of the
state, " and provides that "[t]he amounts to be
appropriated and paid by the city of New Orleans for
expenses, including salaries and maintenance of
constitutional officers, their deputies, subordinates, and
employees shall not be reduced by the city of New Orleans
without the consent of the legislature." La. R.S.
Noting that the purpose of the newly enacted La. R.S.
13:1381.7 is "to clarify the City's duty to pay the
appropriated funding of the Clerk's Office as mandated by
state statutes" and "the necessity for the City to
provide adequate funding to the Clerk's Office, "
this Court found the statute "to be interpretive
law" with "retroactive application."
Id., 2012-1756, p. 9, 126 So.3d at 768. The district
court's denial of the Clerk of Court's petition was
reversed, and the case was remanded to the district court
"for application of La. R.S. 13:1381.7."
Id., 2012-1756, p. 10, 126 So.3d at 768.
After remand, on November 18, 2013, the Clerk of Court filed
a Motion entitled "Motion and Memorandum in Support to
Set for Hearing to Determine Whether Defendant Has Met Its
Obligations in Funding the Criminal Clerk of Court In
Accordance With the Recent Ruling of the Fourth Circuit"
(the "Motion"). In the Motion, the Clerk of Court
alleges that the City "continues to refused [sic] to pay
'the salaries of the deputy clerks appointed' by [the
Clerk of Court] as required by La. R.S.
13:1372." (emphasis supplied). The Clerk of Court
maintains that the City is "activity [sic] seeking to
reduce the employees of the Clerk's office." The
Clerk of Court attached two documents to its Motion: this
Court's opinion and a document entitled "Funding
Summary, " which is neither authenticated nor explained
in the Motion. In attaching the "Funding Summary"
as an exhibit to the Motion, the Clerk of Court merely states
that "in current budget allocations presented by the
City to the City Council, the City seeks to reduce the
Clerk's employee allocation from 90.49 to 83.49 which is
in violation of the law, as well as the ruling of the appeal
The trial court set a hearing on the Motion for December 10,
2013. The record does not contain an opposition by the City
to the Motion, nor a transcript of the hearing of the Motion.
By judgment dated December 17, 2013, the trial court found
that "La. R.S. 13:1381.7 prohibits the City under the
Home Rule Charter from imposing a permanent budgetary hold
back [sic]." The judgment then granted "the
Petition for Writ of Mandamus" and ordered the City to
"appropriate and fully fund the expenses, including the
salaries of the employees and officers of the office of the
Clerk of Criminal District Court for the 2012 fiscal
year." It further finds that "the City of New
Orleans is prohibited from imposing a permanent budgetary
hold back [sic] of the funding appropriated for the office of
the Clerk of Criminal District Court for the 2012 fiscal
From this judgment, the City appealed, and in its Petition
for Suspensive Appeal, the City maintains that it "has
already fully funded the Clerk's Office for 2012 and any
funds held back subsequently were paid to the Clerk[, ]"
but the City appealed the judgment "out of an abundance
of caution." [footnotes omitted]
Clerk II, this Court, once again, remanded this
matter to the district court to determine whether the City
had complied with its statutory obligation to fund the
Clerk's Office for the year 2012, and whether the City
owed any additional funding to the Clerk's Office for
that year. 2014-0421, p. 6, 151 So.3d at 718.
II also addressed the district court's conclusion
that La. R.S. 13:1381.7 prohibits the City under the Home
Rule Charter from imposing a permanent budgetary hold back.
To the extent that the district court's ruling found
"the City may never later reduce the amounts it
originally appropriates when it adopts its budget, "
Clerk II vacated the ruling. 2014-0421, p. 8, 151
So.3d at 718. In interpreting ...