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Panaro v. Landry

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 27, 2019

LEONARD E. PANARO
v.
JEFF LANDRY, ATTY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF LOUISIANA; JAMES M. LEBLANC, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTION (DPSC); MICHAEL D. EDMONSON, SUPERINTENDENT, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE (LSP); GERALD A. TULRICH, JR., SHERIFF OF THE PARISH OF PLAQUEMINES, DEFENDANTS, IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES

          Appealed from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge Parish State of Louisiana Case No. C652686 The Honorable Judge William A. Morvant Presiding

          David M. Hufft Belle Chase, Louisiana Jeffrey Hufft New Orleans, Louisiana Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant Leonard E. Panaro

          Adrienne E. Aucoin Debra A. Rutledge Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety & Corrections, et al.

          Emma J. DeVillier Baton Rouge, Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/Appellee Hon. Jeff Landry, Attorney General of the State of Louisiana

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, PENZATO, AND LANIER, JJ

          LANIER, J.

         The plaintiff/appellant, Leonard E. Panaro, appeals the summary judgment of the Nineteenth Judicial District Court (19th JDC), granted in favor of the defendant/appellee, Hon. Jeff Landry, in his capacity as Attorney General of the State of Louisiana. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 12, 2004, Mr. Panaro pled guilty to sexual battery, a violation of La. R.S. 14:43.1, in the Tenth Judicial District Court, Parish of Natchitoches (10thJDC). The 10th JDC accepted the guilty plea pursuant to the provisions of La. C.Cr.P. art. 893, and Mr. Panaro was sentenced to two years in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (LDPSC). The sentence was suspended, and Mr. Panaro was placed on supervised probation for two years. Mr. Panaro was ordered to pay a fine of $1, 000.00, plus court costs, and was ordered to register as a sex offender.[1]

         At the time of his conviction, the district court allowed Mr. Panaro to transfer his probation to Binghampton, New York, where he resided at the time. After Mr. Panaro successfully completed his probation in New York, Mr. Panaro filed a motion to set his conviction aside and to dismiss the prosecution on January 25, 2007, in the 10th JDC. The district attorney for the Parish of Natchitoches and the chief of police for the City of Natchitoches both concurred in the motion, and the district court signed the order to expunge Mr. Panaro's record.

         In 2016, Mr. Panaro moved back to Louisiana and established residency in Plaquemines Parish. On May 18, 2016, the Louisiana Department of Justice sent a letter to Mr. Panaro advising him that the Department had discovered that he now resided in Louisiana, and that he was required to comply with the sex offender registration laws of the state of Louisiana, since he had never registered in Louisiana previously.

         On November 4, 2016, Mr. Panaro filed a petition for declaratory judgment in the 19th JDC, praying that the district court declare he was under no legal duty to register as a sex offender in the state of Louisiana, since his conviction had been set aside and the underlying prosecution dismissed under La. C.Cr.P. art. 893. Mr. Panaro subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment on May 21, 2018, requesting the same relief. The Attorney General filed a motion for summary judgment on May 25, 2018, requesting that the court find there is no genuine issue of material fact that Mr. Panaro had the duty to register as a sex offender in Louisiana.

         After a hearing on the matter, the 19th JDC signed a judgment on October 3, 2018, denying Mr. Panaro's motion for summary judgment and granting the Attorney General's motion for summary ...


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