Appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for
the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket No.
C667309, Sec. 25 Honorable Wilson Fields, Judge Presiding
Strattman, D. O.C. # 375671 Elaine Hunt Correction Center St.
Gabriel, Louisiana Plaintiff/Appellant In Proper Person
Jonathan R. Vining Elizabeth B. Desselle Baton Rouge,
Louisiana Counsel for Defendant/ Appellee James M. LeBlanc,
Secretary Louisiana Department of Public Safety and
BEFORE: McCLENDON, WELCH, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.
an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of
Public Safety and Corrections (Department), appeals a
judgment of the district court that dismissed his petition
for judicial review with prejudice. Petitioner raised the
same arguments in a related writ application, which has been
assigned to this appellate panel. For the following reasons,
we affirm the district court's judgment, and accordingly,
deny the writ application.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
herein, Dax Strattman, pled guilty to the crime of extortion,
a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:66, on April 25, 2016. The offense
was committed on or between April 1 and April 29 of 2015.
Strattman was sentenced to imprisonment at hard labor for a
term of ten years. At that time, LSA-R.S. H;2(B)(25)
classified extortion as a crime of violence. As a violent
offender, Strattman was eligible under LSA-R.S.
15:571.3(B)(2) to earn dimunition of his sentence, known as
"good time, " at a rate of three days for every
seventeen days in actual custody.
to the matter at hand, Act 281 of the 2017 Regular
Legislative Session ("Act 281") repealed LSA-R.S.
14:2(B)(25), removing extortion from the list of violent
crimes set forth in LSA-R.S. 14:2(B). See 2017 La.
Acts, No. 281, § 3 (eff. Aug. 1, 2017). Act 281 was
silent with respect to retroactive application. Also bearing
on this matter, Act 280 of the 2017 Regular Legislative
Session ("Act 280"), amending LSA-R.S. 15:571.3(B),
amended the good time rate for non-violent crimes to thirteen
days for every seven days in actual custody and provided that
this change is applicable to nonviolent offenders convicted
on or after January 1, 1992. See 2017 La. Acts, No. 280,
§§ 3-4 (eff. Nov. 1, 2017).
August 7, 2017, Strattman filed a request for relief,
assigned ARP No. HDQ-2017-2091, under the Louisiana
Corrections Administrative Remedy Procedure Act (CARP),
LSA-R.S. 15:1171, et seq. Strattman sought relief
pursuant to Act 281, arguing that the repeal of LSA-R.S.
14:2(B)(25) operates retroactively, such that he is no longer
a violent offender subject to the good time calculation of
three days for every seventeen days. Rather, Strattman argued
that he is now eligible to benefit from the good time
calculation applicable to non-violent offenders as set forth
in LSA-R.S. 15:571.3(B)(1)(a) and (b)(ii). The Department
denied Strattman relief.
March 16, 2018, Strattman filed a petition for judicial
review in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court
("19th JDC"). The 19th JDC
Commissioner ("Commissioner") issued a
recommendation that the Department's decision be
affirmed. After considering the entire record and
Strattman's traversal, the district court executed a
September 17, 2018 judgment in which it adopted the
Commissioner's report as reasons, affirmed the
Department's decision to deny relief in ARP No.
HDQ-2017-2091, and dismissed the suit with prejudice.
Strattman filed a notice of intent to seek writs on October
17, 2018, and filed a motion and order for appeal on December
20, 2018. The writ application, which was assigned
No. 2018 CW 1501, was referred to the panel to which the
appeal was assigned on February 15, 2019. As Strattman raises
the same arguments in the writ and appeal, we consider and
address those arguments in tandem herein.
in 1985, CARP authorized the DPSC to adopt and implement an
administrative remedy procedure for receiving, hearing, and
disposing of any and all inmate complaints and grievances.
LSA-R.S. 15:1171-72; Gilmer v. Louisiana Dep't of
Pub. Safety & Corn, 2015-0134 (La.App. 1 Or.
9/18/15), 181 So.3d 746, 748. As provided in CARP, an
offender aggrieved by an adverse decision rendered pursuant
to any administrative remedy procedure can institute
proceedings for judicial review by filing a petition for
judicial review in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court.
LSA-R.S. 15:1177(A). On review of the agency's decision,
the district court functions as an appellate court. Its
review shall be confined to the record and shall be limited
to the issues presented in the petition for review and the
administrative remedy request filed at the agency level.
LSA-R.S. 15:1177(A)(5). The court may affirm the decision of
the agency or remand the case for further proceedings or
order that additional evidence be taken. LSA-R.S.
15:1177(A)(8). The court may reverse or modify the
administrative decision only if substantial rights of the
appellant have been prejudiced because the administrative
findings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are: (1) in
violation of constitutional or statutory provisions, (2) in
excess of the statutory authority of the agency, (3) made
upon unlawful procedure, (4) affected by other error of law,
(5) arbitrary or capricious or characterized by abuse of
discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion, or
(6) manifestly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative
and substantial evidence on the whole record. LSA-R.S.
15:1177(A)(9); Edwards v. Bunch,
2007-1421 (La.App. 1 Or. 3/26/08), 985 So.2d 149, 152.
review of the district court's judgment in a suit for
judicial review under LSA-R.S. 15:1177, no deference is owed
by the court of appeal to the factual findings or legal
conclusions of the district court, just as no deference is
owed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to factual ...