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State v. Bridgewater

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

November 6, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
ROY BRIDGEWATER IN RE ROY BRIDGEWATER

          APPLYING FOR SUPERVISORY WRIT FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA, DIRECTED TO THE HONORABLE GLENN B. ANSARDI, DIVISION "H", NUMBER 96-7161

          Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Robert A. Chaisson, and John J. Molaison, Jr.

         WRIT GRANTED FOR LIMITED PURPOSE OF REMAND

         In this writ application, relator, Roy Bridgewater, seeks review of the district court's August 8, 2019 denial of his motion for new trial.

         On May 13, 2019, relator filed a "Motion for New Trial in Light of McCoy v. Louisiana: Trial Counsel's Admission of Guilt Over Roy Bridgewater's Clear and Unambiguous Objection Violated Mr. Bridgewater's Constitutional Rights, Constituted Structural Error and Requires a New Trial." In his motion, relator alleged that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of counsel for his defense when trial counsel substituted his own objective and conceded guilt despite relator's clear, unequivocal, and repeated statements of his objective for his defenses, namely, to maintain his innocence and force the State to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Relator argued that the United States Supreme Court in McCoy v. Louisiana, ___ U.S. ___, 138 S.Ct. 1500, 200 L.Ed.2d 821 (2018), has recently held that regardless of a trial attorney's experienced opinion and advice, a defendant has the Sixth Amendment right to insist that counsel not admit guilt over his express objection. In light of that decision, relator asserted that he was entitled to a new trial.

         On May 13, 2019, relator also filed an application for post-conviction relief, asserting the same arguments that were contained in his motion for new trial.[1] On May 16, 2019, the district court dismissed and/or denied relator's application for post-conviction relief on the basis that it was untimely and deficient in form. In its order dismissing and/or denying relator's application for post-conviction relief, the district court noted the following procedural defects:

The application fails to contain a copy of the judgment, fails to note the procedural history, and is unverified. The court finds this application does not meet the requirements set forth in LSA-C.Cr.P. art. 926. Pursuant to LSA-C.Cr.P. art. 926(D), the use of the uniform application is mandatory. The court will dismiss the instant filing, in the absence of the proper form and failure to include mandatory information.

         After finding relator's application for post-conviction relief deficient in form, the district court also found his application untimely, stating as follows:

The defendant's alternative theories regarding the nature of the rule in McCoy and his failure to demonstrate that there is a previously unknown rule of interpretation of constitutional law and that it applies retroactively to his case constitute failure to prove an exception to the mandatory time limitation set forth in LSA-C.Cr.P. art. 930.8(A)(2).

         The record contains no indication that relator sought supervisory review from the district court's ruling on his application for post-conviction relief.

         On May 16, 2019, the district court also ordered the State to file a written response to relator's motion for new trial. In this order, the district court, "in order to provide meaningful review on this motion," directed the State to file a written response to address relator's motion for new trial and to specifically "address retroactivity and application of McCoy to the defendant's case, as well as any other procedural or substantive issues of choice." In its response, the State did not address the retroactivity and application of McCoy, but rather requested that the district court "defer the part of its Order directing the State to address the 'retroactivity and application of McCoy to the defendant's case' until such time as this Honorable Court's ruling on the State's procedural objection to the untimeliness of the defendant's motion for new trial becomes final."

         Thereafter, on August 8, 2019, the district court denied relator's motion for new trial as untimely, stating as follows:

Based on the plain language of the statutes in question, the official comments to them, and case law, the state argues that the defendant's motion is untimely. The court agrees. The defendant has already received a ruling on his timely motion for a new trial, on February 9, 1999. He may not seek such relief again, nor can he seek a new trial after this amount of time has elapsed.
After the extensive review of his convictions and sentences that the defendant has received in this case, the only procedural vehicle under which he may now proceed is an application for post-conviction relief. He has already done so, ...

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