Landis v. Moreau was a case before Louisiana Supreme Court in 2001 concerning witness statements as public records.
This case established that the exemption for attorney work product was not a broad exemption but demanded redaction and released of factual information contained in the document.
- Landis was hired to represent Dale Craig in an appeal from his conviction of murder and his sentencing to death. In the process of developing his case, Landis requested from Doug Moreau, the District Attorney for East Baton Rouge Parish, all documents relating to his original case against Craig. Moreau released the majority of documents in question, but did not release audiotapes of witness interviews, claiming they were exempt as attorney work product.
- Landis filed suit and the trial court ordered 3 documents released, however it ruled in favor of the district with regard to the remainder, rendering the documents exempt.
- Landis appealed the decision.
Ruling of the court
After an in camera inspection, the trial court ruled in favor of the district, claiming that most the documents were in fact exempt. The court ordered the release of three specific documents, but determined that the remainder of the documents did constitute attorney work product and were thus exempt. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court.
The Supreme Court overturned the decision of the trial court, remanded the documents for an in camera inspection with the release of all documents that did not constitute opinions of the district attorney.
The Supreme Court first determined that the documents in question were public records under the Louisiana Public Records Act. The court went on to rule that the exemptions found under the Louisiana discovery laws did not apply, as that exemption applied only to written attorney work product and not tangible documents like video or audio tapes. However, the Civil Code of Louisiana extends this exemption to include non-written documents. Thus, the court felt that the question remains as to whether the documents in question contained opinions of the district attorney. The court went on to determine that because the interviews in question were conducted by both the prosecutor and an investigator, who was not an attorney, the opinions of the investigator would not be exempt as attorney work product. Based on these facts, the court overturned the decision of the trial court, and remanded the documents for an in camera inspection in order to redact only the opinions of the prosecutor and release the remainder of the information.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ruling of the Court