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State v. Gumms

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

May 16, 2018

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
GERMAINE GUMMS

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 14-3778, DIVISION "A" HONORABLE RAYMOND S. STEIB, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D. Connick, Jr., Terry M. Boudreaux, Darren A. Allemand

          Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Marc E. Johnson, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          HANS J. LILJEBERG, JUDGE

         The State of Louisiana appeals the trial court's judgment granting defendant's motion to quash the bills of information filed against him. For the following reasons, we reverse the trial court's judgment, reinstate the bills of information, and remand for further proceedings.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On July 21, 2014, the Jefferson Parish District Attorney charged defendant, Germaine Gumms, by two separate bills of information, with possession of methamphetamine, a felony, in violation of La. R.S. 40:967(C), in district court case number 14-3778, and possession of synthetic cannabinoid, a misdemeanor, in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(C), in district court case number 14-3779. Both offenses are alleged to have occurred on March 3, 2014. Defendant pleaded not guilty to both charges.

         On August 23, 2017, defendant filed a motion to quash, arguing that the State failed to commence trial of the charged offenses in a timely manner.[1] The State filed a response to defendant's motion to quash, maintaining that the prescriptive period was interrupted, and thus, the prosecution of defendant's alleged crimes had not prescribed. The following is a timeline of the relevant events leading up to the hearing on the motion to quash.

March 3, 2014: the charged offenses were allegedly committed; on the same date, defendant obtained a commercial bond for his release and agreed to appear in court on April 17, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.
April 17, 2014: defendant failed to appear in court as instructed; an attachment for defendant's arrest was issued and a judgment forfeiting defendant's bail bond was signed by the Criminal Commissioner.
May 8, 2014: certificate of mailing judgment of bond forfeiture was sent to defendant at last known address provided by defendant.
July 21, 2014: the State filed bills of information against defendant for possession of methamphetamine (case number 14-3778) and possession of synthetic cannabinoid (case number 14-3779).
September 19, 2014: the commercial surety filed a motion to set aside judgment of forfeiture and petition for nullity of judgment, stating that relief is warranted because "within six months of the mailing of the notice of bond forfeiture to the surety company, defendant was incarcerated in Jefferson County, Texas from June 14, 2014 through June 24, 2014;" attached to the surety's motion was a copy of a "Prisoner Jail Record" from "Jefferson Co[.]" providing a sentence start date of "61414" and a sentence expiration date of "62414."
January 12, 2015: trial court granted the surety's motion to set aside bond forfeiture; attachment for defendant's arrest remained outstanding.
May 31, 2017: attachment was satisfied by arrest of defendant, and recall of attachment was issued; defendant was arraigned on the charged offenses and entered pleas of not guilty; defendant was personally served with a subpoena for his appearance in court for a pre-trial hearing on July 14, 2017.
August 23, 2017: defendant filed a motion to quash the bills of information arguing the prosecution against him had prescribed.[2]

         On September 21, 2017, the trial court heard the motion to quash. After listening to the arguments of counsel, the trial court granted defendant's motion to quash, finding "the Court believes that once the State is aware of Mr. Gumms's location that they had a duty to go ahead and to ask Texas to produce him or to serve him in Texas." Thereafter, the State filed motions for appeal in both the felony and misdemeanor cases, and they were granted by the trial court. This Court consolidated defendant's appeals on November 17, 2017.

         LAW AND DISCUSSION

         On appeal, the State argues the trial court erred in granting defendant's motion to quash. It asserts that defendant failed to appear in court on April 17, 2014, pursuant to actual notice, and an attachment for his arrest was issued, causing an interruption to the prescriptive period. The State maintains the attachment against defendant was not satisfied until May 31, 2017, when he was arrested and appeared before the trial court, and thus, prescription did not commence to run anew until the date of his 2017 court appearance, rendering the prosecution of his misdemeanor and felony offenses timely. The State avers that while defendant claimed that notice of his alleged incarceration in Texas was provided to ...


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