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In re In re American Waste & Pollution Control Co.

ELR Citation: 22 ELR 20207
Nos. Nos. CA 89 0906 et al., 580 So. 2d 392/(La. Ct. App., 03/11/1991)

The court holds that a Louisiana statute allowing direct appeal of decisions of the state Department of Environmental Quality to the state court of appeal, bypassing the state district courts, is unconstitutional, and the public rights doctrine has no application under the Louisiana Constitution. The court holds that the statute is unconstitutional because it circumvents the district court's original jurisdiction over all civil matters and its exclusive original jurisdiction over cases involving the state as a defendant. The court holds that the courts of appeal have appellate and supervisory jurisdiction, but not original jurisdiction. The court holds that original jurisdiction cannot be conferred legislatively in contravention of the Louisiana Constitution. As a matter of first impression, the court next holds that the federal public rights doctrine, which allows the executive to exercise its power through quasi-judicial procedure, has no role in Louisiana jurisprudence. The court holds that the federal public rights doctrine conflicts with the purpose and intent of the Louisiana Constitution, which contains provisions not present in the federal Constitution expressly restricting legislative power to alter the court system. In a footnote, the court expressly overrules a prior conflicting decision.

A dissent would uphold the statute as constitutional, because the legislature is at liberty to establish a procedure different from that provided in the Louisiana Constitution.

A second dissent would hold that the statute is within the legislature's broad plenary power to enact any law not prohibited by the Louisiana Constitution, and that the statute is expressly within the legislature's power to provide for appellate review under the Judiciary Article of the Louisiana Constitution.

Counsel for Appellant
Gerald L. Walter Jr., James C. Percy
Schwab & Walter
10636 Linkwood Ct., Baton Rouge LA 70810
(504) 767-1460

Counsel for Appellee
Paul J. Lawrence, Roland T. Huson III
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 44096, Baton Rouge LA 70804
(504) 342-1265

Before COVINGTON, C.J., and LOTTINGER, EDWARDS, WATKINS, SHORTESS, CARTER, SAVOIE, LANIER, CRAIN, LEBLANC, FOIL and GONZALES, JJ.

WATKINS, SHORTESS and LOTTINGER, JJ., dissent and will assign reasons.

Foil, J., dissents.