Articles Posted in Louisiana Supreme Court

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Defendant, Lawrence Clark was issued a citation for displaying his art for sale on neutral ground at Decatur Street and Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans, in violation of New Orleans Municipal Code. Clark moved to quash the charging affidavit, asserting the ordinance was unconstitutional. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review to consider whether New Orleans Municipal Code section 110-11, which regulated the outdoor retail sale of art, was indeed unconstitutional as a violation of Clark’s First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court concurred with Clark that the ordinance was unconstitutional. Therefore, it reversed the lower courts’ rulings and granted the motion to quash the charging affidavit against Clark. View "City of New Orleans v. Clark" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari review of this case to determine whether the lower courts erred in finding that the St. Tammany Parish District Attorney was not legally obligated and entitled to serve as “legal adviser to the [Parish C]ouncil, [Parish P]resident and all departments, offices and agencies, and represent the Parish government in legal proceedings.” On April 11, 2016, Applicant, Warren Montgomery, in his official capacity as District Attorney for St. Tammany Parish, filed suit against the St. Tammany Parish Government by and through the St. Tammany Parish Council, and Patricia "Pat" Brister in her official capacity as Parish President (collectively "Respondents"). Applicant sought declaratory relief; Respondents filed dilatory exceptions of prematurity and unauthorized use of summary proceeding, as well as peremptory exceptions of no cause of action and no right of action. Respondents also answered the petition by denying Applicant's claims and asserting several affirmative defenses. In the same pleading, Respondents filed a reconventional demand for declaratory relief that La. R.S. 42:261-263, La. R.S. 16:2 and Section 4-03 (A) of the St. Tammany Parish Home Rule Charter were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found that the lower courts did, in fact, err, and reversed the trial court’s grant of Respondents' Motion for Summary Judgment. Furthermore, finding that there was no genuine issue of material fact that the Louisiana Constitution, the laws of the State, and the St. Tammany Parish Charter mandate that Applicant was the general attorney for St. Tammany Parish, the Court granted Applicant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. View "Montgomery v. St. Tammany Parish Government" on Justia Law

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In this case, the issue presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court’s review centered on whether a City of New Orleans ordinance levying a gallonage tax based on volume upon dealers who handle high alcoholic content beverages was a valid exercise of its authority to levy and collect occupational license taxes within the meaning of La. Const. Art. VI, sec. 28. The trial court declared the ordinance unconstitutional. The Supreme Court found the portion of the ordinance at issue was not an unconstitutional exercise of the City’s taxing authority. Thus, the Court reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Beer Industry League of Louisiana v. City of New Orleans" on Justia Law

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The Board of Ethics (“Board”) filed formal charges against respondents, Walter Monsour and Jordan Monsour. Respondents filed separate motions for summary judgment with the Ethics Adjudicatory Board (“EAB”), seeking dismissal of the charges and attaching exhibits in support of their motions for summary judgment. The Board opposed the motions and attached exhibits in support of its opposition. Respondents filed a reply memorandum, arguing the exhibits attached to the Board’s opposition did not constitute competent evidence because they were unsworn, unverified, and not self-proving. The EAB denied respondents’ objections to the Board’s exhibits and admitted them into evidence. At the end of the hearing, the EAB took the motion for summary judgment under advisement. Respondents sought supervisory review of the ruling admitting the exhibits into evidence. The court of appeal found the EAB erred in admitting the Board's exhibits, because these exhibits did not meet the requirements of La. Code Civ. P. arts. 966 and 967. Accordingly, the court reversed the EAB’s ruling and remanded for further proceedings. Two judges dissented in part, and would have allowed the Board, on remand, to submit competent evidence prior to a ruling on the motion for summary judgment. The Louisiana Supreme Court concluded the evidence produced in connection with motions for summary judgment in these administrative proceedings had to conform to the same requirements applicable to civil proceedings. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal and remanded the case to the EAB for further proceedings. View "Board of Ethics in the Matter of Jordan Monsour & Walter Monsour" on Justia Law

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This disciplinary proceeding was instituted by the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana (“Commission”) against respondent, Justice of the Peace Jeff Sachse, Ward 1, Livingston Parish. The matter arose out of an anonymous complaint lodged against respondent in April 2013, alleging that he was arrested on several occasions for domestic abuse and simple battery of his now ex-wife, Lisa Rabalais. The Commission alleged that respondent’s conduct violated Canons 1 and 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Respondent was not a lawyer, and was elected to office in 1996. In August 2012, Ms. Rabalais moved out of the matrimonial home. While packing her belongings into the car, the police were summoned to the home in response to complaints by Ms. Rabalais that respondent had grabbed her by the shirt to prevent her from leaving. Ms. Rabalais filed a Petition for Protection from Domestic Abuse citing the August 10th incident. She also alleged that respondent repeatedly contacted her after the incident “by phone[,] email and 3rd parties to get [her] to talk to him” and that he also made “threats” through her places of employment “trying to find [her] to talk.” The Louisiana Supreme Court found respondent violated the aforementioned Canons as alleged by the Commission, and suspended respondent without pay for six months, and ordered him to reimburse and pay to the Commission $3,040.02 in costs. View "In re: Justice of the Peace Jeff Sachse, Ward 1, Livingston Parish" on Justia Law

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At issue in consolidated cases was the correctness of administrative decisions issued by the Louisiana Tax Commission (“Commission”) on review of the valuations, for the 2014 and 2015 tax years, by the Orleans Parish Tax Assessor (“Assessor”) of a low-income housing development, owned by Opportunity Homes Limited Partnership (“Opportunity Homes”), for purposes of assessment of ad valorem taxes. The Commission ruled in favor of Opportunity Homes for both tax years. The administrative decisions were upheld by the district court but reversed by the appellate court. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and reinstated the assessment values as determined by the Commission. The Court found no conflict between La. R.S. 47:2323, providing parish assessors a choice of three generally recognized appraisal methods to utilize to determine fair market value (the market approach, the cost approach, and/or the income approach), and La. Admin. Code, Title 61, Part V, sec. 303(C), which recommended the use of the income approach for assessing affordable rental housing, such as the Opportunity Homes LIHTC development. The Supreme Court found this case turned purely on the facts established before the Commission, proving that the income approach was the more appropriate method for determining fair market value in this case. Consequently, the appellate court erred in holding that the Commission’s decisions were in violation of statutory provisions, in excess of its authority, based upon unlawful procedures, and legally incorrect. View "Williams v. Opportunity Homes Limited Partnership" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court’s review centered on the constitutionality of La. R.S. 32:667, particularly paragraphs La. R.S. 32:667 (H)(3) and (I)(1)(a). Plaintiff David Carver was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) pursuant to La. R.S. 14:98. Plaintiff refused to submit to a chemical test for intoxication and his license was suspended for 180 days. The arrest did not result in a conviction, as Plaintiff participated in a pre-trial diversion program. Plaintiff alleged La. R.S. 32:667 (H)(3) and (I)(1)(a) violated the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions. Following the District Court’s finding that the paragraphs violated the Due Process Clauses, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Office of Motor Vehicles (the State) directly appealed that finding to the Supreme Court. After review, the Supreme Court found that the applicable paragraphs did not violate the Due Process Clauses of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions. Thus, the Court reversed the District Court’s judgment of unconstitutionality and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Carver v. Louisiana Dept. of Pub. Safety" on Justia Law

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This matter arose out of a challenge to the validity of a municipal ordinance whereby citations based on traffic camera images, could be reviewed at an administrative hearing. The case went before the Louisiana Supreme Court after a district court declared the administrative review process, as it existed during 2008 through 2012, was unconstitutional. Specifically, the district court declared the administrative review process violated the due process and access to court provisions of the Louisiana Constitution. After reviewing the record, the Supreme Court determined this case was rendered moot. "While the record reveals a convoluted development of this case, what emerges from the trial record is that this case resulted in a number of changes, both legislative and practical, to the administrative review process. Although this case is technically moot, the end result is that the plaintiffs have achieved vindication of the constitutional rights for which they advocated." View "Rand v. City of New Orleans" on Justia Law

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During his second term as mayor of Jonesboro, the state filed a bill of information charging defendant Leslie Thompson with three counts of malfeasance in office by failing and/or refusing to maintain proper records and to supply them to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor; by taking public funds of the town to pay for retirement benefits for employees who were not eligible to participate in the Municipal Employee’s Retirement System; and by using public funds to pay for health insurance premiums for former employees. After reviewing the evidence, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded the evidence was sufficient to find defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as to Count I of the malfeasance in office charge; however, as to Counts II and III, the Court found no rational trier of fact could have found defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Pretermitting all other assignments of error, the Court additionally found the district court erred in denying defendant’s motion for a mandatory mistrial after the prosecutor directly referenced race in a comment before the jury that was neither material nor relevant and that could create prejudice against defendant in the minds of the jury members. Accordingly, the Court vacated defendant’s convictions and sentences, and remanded this case to the district court for further proceedings. View "Louisiana v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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In connection with its operation of a land-based casino in New Orleans, Jazz Casino Company, L.L.C. (Jazz) entered into contracts with various hotels for rooms made available to casino patrons on a complimentary or discounted basis. Jazz was required to pay for a specific number of rooms for the duration of the contract even if the rooms were not used by Jazz patrons. As a result of these hotel room rentals, hotel occupancy taxes were remitted to the Louisiana Department of Revenue (Department). The taxes consisted of state general sales taxes and sales tax collected on behalf of the following three entities: Louisiana Tourism Promotion District, the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, and the New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority. In August 2004, Jazz filed three claims for refund with the Department, alleging that Jazz overpaid hotel occupancy taxes for various hotel room rentals from October 1999, and June 2004. Following the denial of its claims by the Department, Jazz filed suit with the Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals, seeking a determination of overpaid taxes in accordance with La. R.S. 47:1621. Finding that these statutory duties were ministerial, the district court issued a writ of mandamus to the tax collector to compel payment of the tax refund judgment. The court of appeal reversed and recalled the writ due to the lack of evidence needed to obtain a writ of mandamus. Based on the ministerial nature of the constitutional and statutory duties owed by the tax collector in connection with the taxpayer’s refund judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court, and reinstated the district court’s judgment. View "Jazz Casino Co, LLC v. Bridges" on Justia Law