1st Circuit stays ruling in negligent homicide case

Stanley White Show caption
Stanley White

Court wants to clarify jailtime order

The Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal stayed a ruling Tuesday that, less than 24 hours earlier, had ordered a Donaldsonville man to serve out an unfulfilled two-year prison sentence stemming from a 19-year-old negligent homicide conviction in Ascension Parish.

Court and other officials said Tuesday the judges granted a rehearing and issued the stay Tuesday to clarify the Monday afternoon order.

“They don’t have a timetable or anything like that for it, and that’s really all we know at this point,” said Steven Hartmann, spokesman for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which had brought the appeal last year.

Rodd Naquin, chief deputy clerk for the appellate court in Baton Rouge, said he didn’t have a timetable either but said the judges were trying to make the clarification as soon as possible.

On July 10, 1995, Stanley White, 39, 503 Vatican Drive, pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of negligent homicide following an alcohol-related crash on Airline Highway near Gonzales that had killed a 10-week-old St. Amant girl nearly a year earlier.

Even after an appeals court affirmed the conviction in February 1997, White never served his time in prison but never was notified by sheriff’s deputies to report to prison.

In the interim, White, who was 19 at the time of the accident, has earned a college degree, has held a job and has never again been in trouble with the law.

In May 2013, after the case resurfaced, Judge Jessie LeBlanc, of the 23rd Judicial District Court, suspended White’s two-year prison term and gave him two years of probation. The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office appealed the decision and, in a 2-1 ruling Monday, 1st Circuit Judge James E. Kuhn wrote for the majority that LeBlanc did not have authority to modify the original sentence and reversed her ruling.

Naquin and Hartmann said Tuesday afternoon they did not know what aspect of the ruling had drawn the judges’ attention and forced the clarification.

But Steven Moore, White’s defense attorney, said, as he understands it, the appellate judges issued three different rulings Monday.

“It appears to me that’s where the confusion came in and why they corrected themselves today,” Moore said in an interview Tuesday.

Kuhn reversed LeBlanc and reinstated the original sentence. 1st Circuit Judge Toni M. Higginbotham upheld LeBlanc’s ruling.

Judge Mitchell R. Theriot wrote that he concurred with Kuhn and appeared to be the second vote with him, but also wrote he wanted the case remanded back to LeBlanc.

Theriot wanted her to hear arguments on state motions already before her — to revoke the appeal bond and execute the original sentence — and rule with written reasons.

Theriot wrote that ruling would allow the appellate court to be “in the proper position to discuss the constitutional questions being raised by the parties.”

The ruling, which was posted on the 1st Circuit website Monday, is not final for 30 days, Naquin said.

Moore said he had not yet filed an appeal on behalf of White. Moore said he has 14 days to do so.