NO. 2015 CA 0026
Carlwynn J. Turner Homer, LA Plaintiff-Appellant, In Proper Person Terri L. Cannon Angola, LA Attorney for Defendant-Appellee, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION On Appeal from the 19th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana
Trial Court No. C612360
Honorable Wilson Fields, Judge Presiding Carlwynn J. Turner
In Proper Person
Terri L. Cannon
Attorney for Defendant-Appellee,
Louisiana Department of Public
Safety and Corrections
BEFORE: PETTIGREW, HIGGINBOTHAM, AND CRAIN, JJ. HIGGINBOTHAM, J.
Carlwynn J. Turner, is an inmate in the custody of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC), Turner appeals a district court judgment dismissing his petition for judicial review for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
This matter initially arose from lost property claim number LSP-2011-1659, concerning personal possessions that were allegedly misplaced when Turner was moved from one correctional facility to another. DPSC denied Turner's request for an administrative remedy on October 11, 2011, for failure to provide proof of the alleged loss of property. Turner received notice of DPSC's final decision on October 24, 2011. On May 23, 2012, Turner filed a petition for judicial review in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court regarding LSP-2011-1659, in accordance with the Corrections Administrative Remedy Procedure Act, La. R.S. 15:1171, et seq. DPSC excepted to Turner's petition on the grounds that his lost property claim was untimely under La. R.S. 15:1177, since it was filed well over thirty days after Turner received notice of DPSC's final decision. After a hearing before the district court's Commissioner on August 6, 2013, the Commissioner issued a report detailing the administrative history of Turner's request for administrative remedies, the underlying facts, the legal issues, a recommendation that DPSC's exception be sustained for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and that Turner's untimely petition be dismissed.
The duties of the Commissioners of the Nineteenth Judicial District Court include hearing and recommending the disposition of criminal and civil proceedings arising out of the incarceration of state prisoners. La. R.S. 13:711 and 13:713(A). The Commissioner's written findings and recommendations are submitted to a district court judge, who may accept, reject, or modify them. La. R.S. 13:713(C)(5); Martinez v. Tanner, 2011-0692 (La. App. 1st Cir. 11/9/11), 79 So.3d 1082, 1084 n. 3, writ denied, 2011-2732 (La. 7/27/12), 93 So.3d 597.
Following its de novo review of the administrative record, the district court adopted the Commissioner's report as its reasons for judgment and dismissed Turner's petition with prejudice on June 13, 2014. For some reason unknown to this court, the district court's judgment erroneously stated that it was affirming DPSC's decision to "deny good time eligibility" when the district court was actually affirming DPSC's denial of Turner's lost property claim. Turner appeals the judgment, assigning two errors: (1) the district court erred in determining his complaint was based on good time eligibility, and (2) the district court erred in dismissing his lost property claim as untimely.
In its judicial review of DPSC's final decision, the district court functioned as an appellate court. Therefore, on review of the district court's judgment in a suit for judicial review under La. R.S. 15:1177, no deference is owed by the court of appeal to the factual findings or legal conclusions of the district court. Goodin v. Secretary, Dept. of Corrections, 2011-0673 (La. App. 1st Cir. 11/9/11), 79 So.3d 1076, 1079; McCoy v. Stalder, 99-1747 (La. App. 1st Cir. 9/22/00), 770 So.2d 447, 450. Louisiana Revised Statutes 15:1177(A) provides, in pertinent part: "Any offender who is aggrieved by an adverse decision ... by [DPSC] ... may, within thirty days after receipt of the decision, seek judicial review of the decision." The thirty-day period provided by La. R.S. 15:1177(A) is peremptive rather than prescriptive. Carter v. Lynn, 93-1583 (La. App. 1st Cir. 5/20/94), 637 So.2d 690, 691. If an offender fails to file "an action for judicial review in the district court within thirty days after he received his final agency decision, his right to relief ceases to exist. Id. In order for the jurisdiction of the reviewing court to attach, the petition for judicial review must be timely filed. Tatum v. Lynn, 93-1559 (La. App. 1st Cir. 5/20/94), 637 So.2d 796, 797. Peremptive statutes must be strictly construed against peremption. See Rando v. Anco Insulations Inc., 2008-1163 (La. 5/22/09), 16 So.3d 1065, 1083.
Addressing Turner's first assignment of error, we find that despite the district court's obvious incorrect statement in the judgment regarding the type of claim filed by Turner, the record clearly reflects that the district court's judgment dismissed Turner's petition as untimely. The district court noted that it was acting in accordance with and adopting as its reasons, the Commissioner's report and recommendation to dismiss the petition as untimely and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. After reviewing the record de novo, we conclude that the district court actually affirmed DPSC's decision to deny Turner's lost property claim by dismissing Turner's petition on the grounds that the petition for judicial review was untimely. Thus, we will amend the district court judgment to reflect the true reason for the dismissal.
As for the second assignment of error, our de novo review reveals no error in the district court's dismissal of Turner's lost property claim as untimely. The record reflects that Turner's administrative remedy for alleged lost property, LSP-2011-1659, was denied on October 11, 2011, and Turner received notice of DPSC's final decision on October 24, 2011. Pursuant to La. R.S. 15:1177(A), Turner had thirty days "after receipt of the decision" to seek judicial review. Turner filed the instant petition on May 23, 2012, well after the statutorily mandated time frame, but Turner maintains that his petition regarding his lost property claim was nonetheless timely. Turner points out that he initially filed a petition for judicial review of two related administrative decisions, LSP-2011-1642 (concerning an alleged retaliatory transfer) and LSP-2011-1659 (the alleged lost property claim at issue and is somehow connected to the alleged retaliatory transfer), in a separate proceeding under district court number 607420, on November 9, 2011, which was within the thirty-day time allowed for filing. However, it is well settled that an inmate may only seek review of a single administrative record in any single lawsuit. See Lightfoot v. Stalder, 97-2626 (La. App. 1st Cir. 12/28/98), 727 So.2d 553, 555. See also Goodin, 79 So.3d at 1080.
Allowing an inmate to request review of more than one adverse decision in the same petition calls into question timeliness issues and unnecessarily complicates the reviewing court's role by having several records transmitted for review. Lightfoot, 727 So.2d at 555.
The record reveals that the Commissioner assigned to hear district court number 607420 issued an order instructing Turner to designate within thirty days of the order which of the two administrative decisions he wanted the district court to review. On January 18, 2012, Turner advised the Commissioner that he sought judicial review of the administrative decision in LSP-2011-1642, concerning the alleged retaliatory transfer, without any comment or request concerning his lost property claim in LSP-2011-1659. However, relying on his timely filed petition with multiple claims, Turner still argues that he was granted additional time to seek separate judicial review of his lost property claim in LSP-2011-1659 after he was ordered to choose one claim to pursue.
Even if we were inclined to agree with Turner, which we do not, we note that the petition for judicial review of the lost property claim was filed well after thirty days from the time Turner was ordered to designate the claim he was actually pursuing. Further, we find that the Multiple Claims Order issued by the Commissioner in the other district court suit did not extend the thirty days allowed for filing the petition for judicial review of LSP-2011-1659. See Mahogany v. Stalder, 2008-0517 (La. App. 1st Cir. 9/23/08) (unpublished). We emphasize that the time limit for judicial review under La. R.S. 15:1177 is peremptive in nature, and thus may not be interrupted, suspended, or extended under any circumstances. See La. Civ. Code art. 3461; Evans v. Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections, 2013-1345 (La. App. 1st Cir. 4/25/14), 147 So.3d 195, 197. Thus, when Turner failed to seek a separate judicial review of his lost property claim within thirty days of receipt of the DPSC decision as provided in La. R.S. 15:1177(A), his right to relief ceased to exist, and the reviewing court lacks jurisdiction. Carter, 637 So.2d at 691; Tatum, 637 So.2d at 797. Accordingly, we find no error in the district court's dismissal of Turner's untimely petition for judicial review regarding his alleged lost property claim.
Peremption is a period of time fixed by law for the existence of a right. Unless timely exercised, the right is extinguished upon expiration of the peremptive period. La. Civ. Code art. 3458. --------
After a thorough review, we conclude that the record amply supports the judgment of the district court, as amended and rendered in accordance with the recommendation of the Commissioner, correctly dismissing Turner's untimely petition with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Therefore, we affirm the district court's judgment as amended. All costs of this appeal are assessed to Carlwynn J. Turner.
AFFIRMED AS AMENDED.