FOR WRITS DIRECTED TO CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH
NO. 532-844, SECTION "C" Honorable Benedict J.
Collins Orleans Public Defenders COUNSEL FOR
Cannizzaro, District Attorney Donna Andrieu, Assistant
District Attorney Kevin Guillory, Assistant District Attorney
COUNSEL FOR STATE OF LOUISIANA/RESPONDENT.
composed of Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Sandra Cabrina
Jenkins, Judge Dennis R. Bagneris, Pro Tempore).
CABRINA JENKINS JUDGE.
seeks review of the trial court's December 20, 2017
ruling that overruled the defense's written objection to
the State's discovery redaction. For the following
reasons, we grant defendant's writ and remand this matter
to the trial court to conduct an ex parte proceeding
with the State in accordance with the mandatory provisions of
La. C.Cr.P. art. 729.7.
February 17, 2017, defendant was indicted for one count of
second degree murder and one count of obstruction of justice.
After entering a plea of not guilty, defendant filed several
motions, including a motion for discovery. On April 7, 2017,
the State tendered initial discovery, including police
reports from the investigation leading to defendant's
arrest and indictment. However, the State redacted
identifying information as to two witnesses in the police
reports. In response, on July 24, 2017, defendant filed a
motion for supplemental discovery and, in accordance with La.
C.Cr.P. art. 729.7, a written motion objecting to the
State's redaction of information identifying the
December 20, 2017, the trial court held a hearing on
defendant's motion objecting to the State's discovery
redaction. At the hearing, the State agreed to provide
defendant with information and a recorded statement as to one
of the redacted witnesses. However, the State argued that the
identity of the second witness was protected, pursuant to La.
R.S. 46:1844(W) and La. Ch. C. arts. 322 and 323, because the
witness is a juvenile. Defense counsel argued that the
statutes cited by the State were inapplicable; and, in
accordance with the mandatory, governing provisions of La.
C.Cr.P. art. 729.7, the trial court should hold an ex
parte, in camera hearing with the State where
it must make a prima facie showing that the witness's
safety may be compromised. Following arguments, the trial
court stated, "I'll just rule that the person is
writ, defendant argues that the trial court abused its
discretion in determining the redacted witness was
"protected" without conducting an ex parte
hearing pursuant to La. C.Cr.P. art. 729.7. For the following
reasons, we find the trial court's ruling was legal
we note that La. C.Cr.P. art. 718 authorizes and requires the
production of law enforcement reports,  as follows:
Subject to the limitation of Article 723 of this Code, and
except as otherwise prohibited by law, upon written motion of
the defendant, the court shall order the district attorney to
permit or authorize the defendant to inspect and copy,
photograph or otherwise reproduce law enforcement reports
created and known to the prosecutor made in connection with
the particular case, and to permit or authorize the defendant
or an expert working with the defendant, to inspect, copy,
examine, test scientifically, photograph, or otherwise
reproduce books, papers, documents, photographs, tangible
objects, buildings, places, or copies or portions thereof
that are within the possession, custody, or control of the
state, and that are intended for use by the state as evidence
in its case in chief at trial, or were obtained from or
belong to the defendant.
that, under certain circumstances, the disclosure of
information identifying witnesses may compromise witness
safety, La. C.Cr.P. art. 729.7 provides a ...