2018 Louisiana Laws
TITLE 15 - Criminal Procedure
RS 15:170 - Disciplinary action; sanctions of regional directors and district public defenders; just cause; hearing
§170. Disciplinary action; sanctions of regional directors and district public defenders; just cause; hearing
A.(1) The board shall have the authority to take corrective or disciplinary action against any regional director, or district public defender, for failure to adhere to the standards and guidelines for rendering indigent defender services as provided by rules adopted pursuant to R.S. 15:148 and in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act.
(2) "Corrective or disciplinary action" shall include but not be limited to any of the following:
(a) Issuance of a warning or reprimand.
(b) Issuance of a sanction.
(c) Suspension from rendering public defender services with or without compensation.
(3) A regional director or district public defender may be demoted or terminated for just cause.
B. The actions which constitute just cause are as follows:
(1) The willful refusal to comply with mandatory training and education requirements.
(2) The willful refusal to comply with mandatory performance standards and guidelines as required by rule adopted by the board.
(3) The conviction or nolo contendere plea to any felony, participation in a pretrial diversion program pursuant to a felony charge, or conviction of any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or public corruption.
(4) The willful failure to correct consistently ineffective practices to the detriment of clients.
(5) The willful failure to document communications with clients as required by the board.
(6) The willful failure to cooperate with the state public defender, a regional director, where applicable, or the board in any matter.
(7) The willful failure to submit to periodic review of their work against the performance standards and guidelines.
(8) The willful failure to submit requested documentation on any matter as requested by the regional director or the board.
(9) Knowingly making any false statement to the regional director, state public defender, or board.
(10) Using fraudulent, coercive, or dishonest practices or misrepresentation or demonstrating incompetence, untrustworthiness, or financial irresponsibility in the conduct of business such as might endanger the public.
C. A regional director or district public defender who feels that he has been demoted or terminated without just cause as defined in this Section may, within fifteen days after the action, demand in writing a hearing, and investigation by the board to determine the reasonableness of the action.
D.(1) Upon receipt of a request for a hearing, the board shall appoint a five- member hearing committee made up of five board members.
(2) The board shall designate the chairman of the hearing committee, who shall function as the presiding officer of the hearing.
(3) The chairman of the hearing committee shall designate an attorney to present evidence in support of the proposed job action. The attorney may be the supervisor requesting the job action or his designee or another attorney currently providing indigent defender services appointed by the board for that purpose.
(4) The hearing committee shall conduct a hearing on the matter within thirty days after receipt of the written request.
(5) The hearing shall be conducted by the hearing committee and shall, at a minimum, provide for:
(a) The receipt of sworn testimony, including by deposition.
(b) An opportunity for any interested party to be heard.
(c) An orderly, predictable, and timely docketing system.
(d) Submission of the report required by this Section within thirty days after receipt of the record of the hearing conducted as provided for in this Section.
(6) The hearing shall be public and the testimony shall be recorded.
(7) All parties shall be afforded an opportunity to appear before the hearing committee, either in person or with counsel, and present evidence to show that the action was or was not taken in good faith for cause as set forth in the provisions of this Section.
(8) The burden of proof for any job action short of termination of employment shall be by a preponderance of the evidence. The burden of proof for termination of employment shall be by clear and convincing evidence.
E. The hearing committee may:
(1) Issue subpoenas and compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents.
(2) Administer oaths.
(3) Require testimony under oath before the hearing committee in the course of a hearing being held for any reason.
(4) Issue written interrogatories.
F. As to every matter on which a hearing is held, the hearing committee shall submit a report to the board within thirty days of conducting the hearing, which shall contain, at a minimum, the record of the hearing, including all submissions, the finding of the facts that are pertinent to the decision, the conclusions of applicable law related to the decision, and the decision. The submission shall be in writing, shall be provided to all involved parties, and shall be a public record, except for any submitted materials which are confidential pursuant to law.
G.(1) Within thirty days of receipt of the report from the hearing committee, the board shall take action in a public meeting conducted by the board.
(2) At that time the board may affirm the recommendation of the hearing committee, modify or disapprove the recommendations of the hearing committee, or direct that the matter be investigated further.
(3) If the board affirms the demotion or termination action, then the termination or demotion of the regional director or district public defender shall remain in effect and shall be permanent.
(4) If the board finds that the termination or demotion was not taken in good faith for just cause under the provisions of this Section, the board shall order the immediate reinstatement or reemployment of such person in the office, place, position, or employment from which he was terminated or demoted, which reinstatement shall, if the board so provides, be retroactive and entitle him to his regular pay from the time of termination or demotion.
(5) The board may modify the order of termination or demotion by directing a suspension without pay for a given period.
H. The decision of the board, together with its written findings of fact, shall be certified in writing and shall be enforced by the board.
I. All decisions of the board are final and may not be appealed.
J. Prior to terminating or demoting a district public defender, the board shall send written notice of the public hearing as required by this Section, to the chief judge, and the district advisory board, if applicable, of the judicial district of the board's intention to terminate or demote the district public defender of that judicial district.
Acts 2007, No. 307, §1; Acts 2008, No. 220, §6, eff. June 14, 2008.