FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2017-04660,
DIVISION "L-6" Honorable Kern A. Reese, Judge.
L. STERNBERG MICHAEL FINKLESTEIN STERNBERG, NACCARI &
WHITE, LLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE
M. FINK THE LAW OFFICE OF BERNARD L. CHARBONNET, JR., A
PROFESSIONAL LAW CORPORATION -and- SCOTT G. VINCENT ASSISTANT
DISTRICT ATTORNEY ORLEANS PARISH COUNSEL FOR
composed of Chief Judge James F. McKay III, Judge Sandra
Cabrina Jenkins, Judge Dale N. Atkins.
F. MCKAY III CHIEF JUDGE.
mandamus action, defendant, Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr., District
Attorney for Orleans Parish ("D.A."), appeals the
November 22, 2017 judgment ordering the D.A. to turn over
certain files to plaintiff, Charles Maldonado ("Mr.
Maldonado"), pursuant to his public records requests.
Mr. Maldonado answered the appeal seeking a modification of
the judgment, alleging that the trial court erred in not
ordering production of all open files and in failing
to find that the D.A. was arbitrary and capricious. Mr.
Maldonado also seeks attorney's fees for work performed
on this appeal.
reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's judgment
and find no merit in the assignments of error set forth in
Mr. Maldonado's answer to the appeal. We remand to the
trial court for a determination of Mr. Maldonado's
additional attorney's fees.
OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
April 27, 2017, Mr. Maldonado, a staff writer with The
Lens,  issued a public records request to the
D.A. pursuant to the Louisiana Public Records Law, La. R.S.
44:1, et seq. The request sought "[a]ny and all
'D.A. Subpoenas' delivered to witnesses beginning
Jan. 1, 2016 through the date of this request
2, 2017, the D.A. responded, in pertinent part, as follows:
In the present case, the request for "D.A.
Subpoenas" delivered to witnesses is overly broad,
particularly in light of the fact that the request involves a
review of literally thousands of closed files, a substantial
number of which are stored off-site. Therefore, compliance
with your request would require this Office [sic] manually
review thousands of files stored on premises and off-site,
the retrieval fee for which is $8.10 per file. Given the
potential volume of the records that would have to be
reviewed in order to respond to your request, the fact that
the records cannot [sic] are not readily identifiable and
locatable, and the retrieval costs involved, the District
Attorney's Office submits that obtaining the records
requested by you and preparing them for public review,
including redacting and removing privileged information and
documentation therefrom and determining whether there is a
potential for further criminal litigation, would be
unreasonably burdensome. Accordingly, your request is denied
at this time.
15, 2017, Mr. Maldonado filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus
against the D.A., seeking to compel production of the
requested records. The petition sought attorney's fees
and costs pursuant to La. R.S. 44:35(D) and alleged that the
D.A. was arbitrary and capricious in failing to respond to
the records request.
22, 2017, Mr. Maldonado issued a second records request to
the D.A. as follows:
Any and all records related to the use of so-called "DA
Subpoenas," including but not limited to log entries,
records showing time of service, records of returns, files in
a computerized or paper filing system, meeting notes with
witnesses who received them, any other case notes reflecting
their use, written communications with witnesses who received
them, written communications with attorneys for those
witnesses, written communications with others regarding
"DA subpoenas," and other records maintained by
ADAs, clerks, secretaries or by the DA's office regarding
their use. Timeframe for this request is January 1,
2016-present (May 22, 2017).
On May 25, 2017, the D.A. responded, in pertinent part, as
The records request fails to describe a specific public
record in the Orleans Parish District Attorney's
Office's custody or control. The Orleans Parish District
Attorney's Office does not maintain a copy of subpoenas
in a particular file or location, nor does the District
Attorney's Office maintain a list of cases in which a
subpoena was issued. Under the Public Records Law, a records
custodian is not required to compile a list in order to
respond to a public records request. Rather, the custodian
need only make the record available in the particular format
in which it is maintained. (Citations omitted).
25, 2017 response further reiterated that the records request
was overly broad, burdensome, and expensive. 
parties met on May 25, 2017, in an attempt to resolve the
matter. The D.A. requested that Mr. Maldonado submit a
narrower records request.
the meeting, Mr. Maldonado submitted a third records request
on May 30, 2017, seeking the following:
Any and all "DA subpoenas" issued to witnesses or
other parties as part of the following cases:
State of La. v. Dale Lambert, case number 517-162
State of La. v. Chevroun Smith, case number 514-924
State of La. v. Phillip Gibson, case number 506-743
State of La. v. Karl Peters, case number 491-939
State of La. v. Darryl Griffin, case number 479-359
State of La. v. Durelle Bowens, case number 507-266
State of La. v. Dwayne Diaz, case number 518-162
State of La. v. Jennifer Gaubert, case number 517-669
State of La. v. Nathaniel Payton, case number 486-528
State of La. v. Jerome Gibson, case number 512-137
Maldonado has acknowledged that the D.A. made six of the
requested case files available for viewing.
May 30, 2017, Mr. Maldonado requested all D.A. subpoenas
maintained or saved in the personal case notes or computer
files of Assistant District Attorneys Jason Napoli, Laura
Rodrigue, Inga Petrovich, and Sara Dawkins from December 1,
2016, through May 30, 2017. On June 2, 2017, the D.A.
responded, stating that the personal case notes were not