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Wallace v. LeBlanc

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

June 21, 2018

CHARLES RAY WALLACE
v.
JAMES M. LEBLANC, SECRETARY, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS

          On Appeal from the Nineteenth District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 629, 847 The Honorable William Morvant, Judge Presiding

          Charles Ray Wallace Winn Correctional Center Winnfield, Louisiana In Proper Person

          Jonathan R. Vining Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorney for Appellees, James M. LeBlanc, Secretary, and Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          PENZATO, J.

         Appellant, Charles Ray Wallace, an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC), housed at Winn Correctional Center in Winnfield, Louisiana, appeals a judgment of the district court that affirmed the decision of DPSC and dismissed his petition for judicial review with prejudice.[1] Based on our review of the record, we affirm the district court's judgment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Mr. Wallace filed a petition for judicial review in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court (19th JDC) seeking review of ARP No. WNC-2013-1134 in accordance with the Louisiana Corrections Administrative Remedy Procedure ("CARP"), La. R.S. 15:1171 et seq. Mr. Wallace was arrested on October 21, 1986, the same date he committed the offenses of armed robbery and attempted second-degree murder. He was initially sentenced on February 20, 1987, to hard labor for forty years for armed robbery and thirty years for attempted second-degree murder, to run concurrently. He was released from prison on January 17, 2009, after receiving a dimunition of sentence, commonly known as good time.[2]Mr. Wallace was rearrested on April 25, 2012, for aggravated battery, pled guilty, and was sentenced to seven years. That sentence was to run concurrently with the remaining fourteen years of his previous sentence. Mr. Wallace claims that when he originally was released from prison in 2009, he should not have been required to be under parole supervision. He also claims that he was entitled to earn good time at a rate of sixty days for every thirty days, and therefore, he should have originally been released from custody a decade before he was released on January 17, 2009. Mr. Wallace asserts that his good time was miscalculated and that he is entitled to immediate release.

         Mr. Wallace filed his request for administrative relief pursuant to CARP.[3] The request was denied on November 25, 2013. At the first step of the CARP process, Mr. Wallace was told that on January 17, 2009, he was properly released under good time parole supervision in accordance with 1981 La. Acts, No. 762, § 1, effective July 1, 1982, enacting La. R.S. 15:571.5. He was further told that he was not entitled to sixty days of good time for every thirty days just because he had concurrent sentences. Therefore, DPSC determined that Mr. Wallace was correctly placed on good time parole supervision and his good time computation were correctly calculated. At the second step, his request was again denied.

         Mr. Wallace filed a petition for judicial review in the district court. The 19th JDC Commissioner[4] (Commissioner) issued a recommendation that the final administrative decision be affirmed to deny relief and that the suit be dismissed with prejudice. In a judgment signed on July 18, 2017, the district court adopted the recommendation of the Commissioner after considering the administrative record, the Commissioner's Report, and the traversal filed by Mr. Wallace. It is from this judgment that Mr. Wallace appeals.

         LAW AND DISCUSSION

         Louisiana 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 DPSC's administrative decisions. Judicial review is mandated to be conducted by the trial 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 or capricious or characterized by 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.

         On 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.

         Mr. Wallace claims on appeal that he should not have been released on January 17, 2009, under parole supervision, and that he should have been credited with sixty days for every thirty days served. As noted by the Commissioner, Mr. Wallace is questioning DPSC's authority to require parole supervision pursuant to La. R.S. 15:571.5. Mr. Wallace asserts that the good time statute applicable to his sentence is 1987 La. Acts, No. 848, § 1, effective January 1, 1988, which added La. R.S. 15:571.14(8) (currently incorporated into La. R.S. I5;57l.3), [5] and that because it said nothing about release on ...


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