FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 536-779,
SECTION "A" Honorable Laurie A. White, Judge
K. Hunter, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.
Cannizzaro, District Attorney Donna Andrieu, Assistant
District Attorney Irena Zajickova, Assistant District
Attorney COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT/THE STATE OF LOUISIANA.
composed of Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Rosemary Ledet,
Judge Tiffany G. Chase
ROSEMARY LEDET, JUDGE
a State appeal from the quashal of a prosecution for failure
to pay a child support obligation. For the reasons that
follow, we reverse and remand.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
purposes of this appeal, it is undisputed that Herman Wells
owes an ongoing obligation to pay child support arising from
a consent judgment entered in a civil child support
proceeding pending before the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court
(the "Child Support Case"). It is also undisputed
that, as a result of Mr. Wells' failure to make payments
as required in the Child Support Case, the Jefferson Parish
Juvenile Court entered a contempt judgment on July 21, 2015,
making executory arrearages in the amount of $25, 308.11.
August 25, 2017, the State filed a bill of information
charging Mr. Wells with one count of failure to pay a child
support obligation in excess of $15, 000, a felony violation
of La. R.S. 14:75(C)(5) (the "Orleans Parish
Prosecution"). The bill of information alleges that,
between July 21, 2015 and August 25, 2017, Mr. Wells failed
to pay child support in the amount of $25, 000 or more.
arraignment, Mr. Wells filed a motion to quash the Orleans
Parish Prosecution; and the State filed an opposition. On
October 3, 2017, Mr. Wells failed to appear for arraignment;
and the State and defense counsel requested that the
arraignment be reset. Instead, the district court addressed
the motion to quash. After argument, the district court
granted the motion. This appeal followed.
State v. Trepagnier, 14-0808, p. 5, n. 3 (La.App. 4 Cir.
11/19/14), 154 So.3d 670, 673, this court set forth the
standard of review for a district court's ruling on a
motion to quash as follows:
The standard of review that we apply in reviewing a district
court's ruling on a motion to quash varies based on the
types of issues presented. When solely legal issues are
presented-such as in the present case involving a motion to
quash under La.C.Cr.P. art. 535 A(1) for failure to charge an
offense punishable under a valid statute-we apply a de
novo standard of review. State v. Olivia,
13-0496, pp. 2-3 (La.App. 4 Cir. 3/26/14), 137 So.3d 752,
754; State v. Schmolke, 12-0406, p. 4 (La.App. 4
Cir. 1/16/13), 108 So.3d 296, 299; see also State v.
Hamdan, 12-1986, p. 6 (La.3/19/13), 112 So.3d 812, 816
(noting that "[o]n appeal from the trial court's
ruling on a motion to quash, the trial court's legal
findings are subject to a de novo standard of
review"). In contrast, when mixed issues of fact and law
are presented-such as speedy trial violations and nolle
prosequi dismissal-reinstitution cases-we apply an abuse
of discretion standard. State v. Hall, 13-0453, pp.
11-12 (La.App. 4 Cir. 10/9/13), 127 So.3d 30, 39 (citing
State v. Tran, 12-1219, p. 2 (La.App. 4 Cir.
4/24/13), 115 So.3d 672, 673, n. 3) (explaining that
"[i]n reviewing rulings on motions to quash where there
are mixed questions of fact as well as law, as here, a trial
judge's ruling on a motion to quash is discretionary and
should not be disturbed absent a clear abuse of
discretion"); State v. Love, 00-3347, pp. 9-10
(La. 5/23/03), 847 So.2d 1198, 1206 ("[b]ecause the
complementary role of trial courts and appellate courts
demands that deference be given to a trial court's
discretionary decision, an appellate court is allowed to
reverse a trial court judgment on a motion to quash only if
that finding represents an abuse of the trial court's
Id.; see also State v. Kelly, 13-0715, p. 2, n. 2
(La.App. 4 Cir. 1/8/14), 133 So.3d 25, 27; State v.
Williams, 14-0477, p. 6 (La.App. 4
Cir. 12/17/14), 156 So.3d 1285, 1288 (quoting Kelly,
motion to quash, Mr. Wells asserted two grounds: lis
pendens and res judicata. In granting the
motion, however, the district court relied on a third ground
not asserted in the motion-jurisdiction. In its sole
assignment of error, the State contends that the district
court erred in granting the motion to quash for lack of
jurisdiction because the Orleans Parish Criminal District
Court has jurisdiction over this prosecution.
commentator has observed, in criminal cases, "[t]he
concept of jurisdiction encompasses several different types
of limitation upon judicial authority."  W ayne R. L a
F ave, et al ., 4 C riminal P rocedure ("L a F
ave "), § 16.1(a) (4th ed. 2003). Only two of those
limitations- subject matter jurisdiction and venue-are at
issue in this case. Because the district court did not