WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT
PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, DOCKET NO. 2018-OP-2919 HONORABLE JULES
EDWARDS, DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Gregory COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Natasha
Stutes Emilia Salas Pardo 15th Judicial District Attorney
Office, Lafayette Parish COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of
composed of Shannon J. Gremillion, John E. Conery, and Van H.
E. CONERY JUDGE.
Natasha Poirier, was arrested on May 9, 2018, for second
degree battery and false imprisonment of her mother,
violations of La.R.S. 14:34.1 and La.R.S. 14:46,
respectively, which took place on April 25, 2018. A
contradictory hearing (also known as a Gwen's Law
hearing) occurred on May 14, 2018. Following the presentation
of evidence and argument by counsel, the trial court denied
bail and issued a protective order against Defendant in favor
of the victim.
filed notice of intent to seek supervisory review by this
court on May 22, 2018, and a return date of June 14, 2018 was
set by the trial court. Defendant's writ was timely
filed. In her application, Defendant contends the trial court
abused its discretion in denying her request for bail because
the State failed to produce sufficient evidence to establish
that she was presumptively guilty of the charges against her,
a danger to others, or a flight risk. Defendant also asserts
thatthe trial court erroneously shifted the burden of
production to her while also preventing her from presenting
relevant evidence, which denied her the right to be free from
excessive bail and her right to a fair hearing under the due
process clauses of the Louisiana and Federal Constitutions.
For the following reasons, Defendant's writ application
Gwen's Law hearing, the State made argument to the trial
court and admitted several exhibits; it did not call
witnesses. In its argument, the State asserted that on the
morning of April 25, 2018, Defendant hit her mother with a
closed fist, strangled her until she nearly asphyxiated, and
then prohibited her from leaving the residence. Four and a
half hours after the incident occurred, the victim managed to
escape and called 911. Police responding to the domestic
disturbance call noted contusions to the victim's face
and bruising all over her body. Photographs of the
victim's injuries were admitted as State's Exhibit 1.
According to counsel, officers spoke to a witness who stated
she heard the victim calling out for help and saw Defendant
dragging the victim across concrete. Allegedly, the witness
approached Defendant and asked if the victim needed help, but
Defendant declined, stating "[they] were fine."
its argument, the State informed the trial court that
Defendant pled guilty in 2015 to a 2011 simple battery of her
mother. Evidence of that prior conviction was admitted as
State's Exhibit 2. The State also advised the trial court
that Defendant had been arrested in 2005 for domestic abuse
battery, pled guilty to a drug offense in 2004, and had
previously been convicted of criminal mischief and a
marijuana offense. Counsel stated that warrants for
Defendant's arrest had been issued because she failed to
appear for court after being arrested in 2005, 2010, 2011,
2013, and 2015. Finally, Defendant's jail packet,
including the affidavit supporting the arrest warrant for the
instant charges, was introduced as State's Exhibit 3.
called Calvin Paul St. Julien, Jr., to testify on her behalf.
St. Julien testified that he had two children with Defendant
and had known her at least twenty years. He and Defendant
were in a romantic relationship and saw each other daily at
the time of the offenses. St. Julien testified that Defendant
had a history of drug addiction, which began approximately
fifteen years earlier, and that Defendant entered a treatment
program approximately a year earlier. St. Julien believed
Defendant had begun using drugs at some point in the year
after leaving the treatment program and was using drugs at
the end of April 2018. He also assumed Defendant was using
drugs during the time of her prior convictions.
Julien testified that Defendant suffered from mental illness
and would stop taking her prescribed medication, which often
coincided with resumption of her illegal drug use. St. Julien
testified that Defendant was one hundred percent better when
she was on her medication and that Defendant checked herself
into "Vermilion" and got back on the proper
medication for her mental illness after the April 25, 2018
incident. St. Julien did not know of Defendant fighting or
getting into trouble when she was off drugs.
other evidence was presented at the hearing. During closing
arguments, defense counsel requested that the trial court set
reasonable bond and if Defendant was unable to make bond, she
be released to an in-patient mental health program or
alternatively home incarceration conditioned on her
participation in out-patient drug treatment and regular
mental health treatment. The trial court denied the request,
[T]he evidence that you [(defense counsel)] have presented is
that this lady has a mental health condition, this lady has a
substance abuse disorder . . .
. . . .
[H]ouse arrest with electronic monitoring is insufficient for
a person who has this kind of criminal history, and who has a
mental health diagnosis and a substance abuse disorder
This lady -- the evidence does indicate that this lady
presents a significant danger to her mother, and for that
reason I will order that she be detained without bond. I am
going to order that there be a protective order issued in
this case that would be valid for two years.
OF ERROR NO. 1:
In her first assignment of error, Defendant contends the
State failed to produce sufficient evidence to establish she
was presumptively guilty of the charged crimes, a ...