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Scott v. Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

June 3, 2019

BEN H. SCOTT
v.
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS

          Appealed from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Suit Number C664331 Honorable R. Michael Caldwell, Presiding

          Ben H. Scott In Proper Person

          Darren A. Allemand Terry M. Boudreaux Assistant District Attorneys Gretna, LA Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Paul D. Connick, Jr., District Attorney 24th Judicial District Court

          BEFORE: GUIDRY, THERIOT, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          GUIDRY, J.

         Petitioner, Ben Scott, appeals from a judgment of the district court dismissing with prejudice his writ of habeas corpus for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Scott was convicted of First Degree Robbery, a violation of La. R.S. 14:64.1, and was sentenced to forty years imprisonment. Scott's conviction was upheld in State v. Scott. 06-134 (La.App. 5th Cir. 7/25/06), 939 So.2d 462, writ denied, 06-2133 (La. 3/3/07), 953 So.2d 61, and he was denied post-conviction relief in State ex rel. Scott v. State, 15-1611 (La. 10/17/16), 202 So.3d 479 (per curiam). On December 14, 2017, Scott filed an Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to La. C.Cr.P. arts. 351, and 352-354 in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court (JDC). The application asserts that Scott was convicted based upon false testimony that led to a suggestive identification of him in open court, that he was denied a fair suppression hearing, and that his 14th Amendment and Due Process rights were violated.

         On February 6, 2018, Paul D. Connick, Jr., the District Attorney for the Twenty-Fourth JDC, responded to Scott's application for writ of habeas corpus and asserted that Scott's application should be dismissed because the relief he seeks must be sought through an application for post-conviction relief. Alternatively, Connick requested that the court transfer Scott's petition to the Twenty-Fourth JDC to be treated as an application for post-conviction relief. The Commissioner for the Nineteenth JDC assigned to review the matter thereafter submitted a screening report, wherein she determined that the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear Scott's complaint, because it was not an actual application for writ of habeas corpus, but it was a collateral attack on the petitioner's criminal conviction. The Commissioner noted that the application does not challenge the authority of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections (Department), but rather, it challenges the validity of Scott's conviction. As such, the Commissioner recommended that Scott's application be dismissed with prejudice. The district court thereafter signed a judgment in conformity with the screening report, ordering that Scott's writ of habeas corpus be dismissed with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Scott now appeals from the district court's judgment.

         DISCUSSION

         Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure article 351 provides:

Habeas corpus is a writ commanding a person who has another in his custody to produce him before the court and to state the authority for the custody.
"Custody" as used in this Title means detention or confinement as a result of or incidental to an instituted or anticipated criminal proceeding.
The provisions of this Title are not available to persons entitled to file an application for post conviction relief under Title ...

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