The coronavirus continues to adversely impact so many, and the court systems across the country are adapting in kind. Accordingly, the Louisiana Supreme Court has issued orders over the last several weeks to help the court system navigate through these challenging times. Recently, Louisiana’s Governor, in Proclamation JBE 2020-58, lifted the Stay-at Home Order and modified the emergency provisions in consideration of the ongoing pandemic. In Proclamation JBE 2020-59, the Governor of Louisiana suspended all legal deadlines until at least June 5, 2020. Below is a digest of the most up-to-date information regarding courts in Louisiana as of the time of this posting.
On May 15, 2020, the Supreme Court repealed and replaced its April 2020 orders. No jury trials, civil or criminal, will begin before June 30, 2020, pursuant to the Louisiana Supreme Court’s May 15, 2020 order. In-person proceedings are no longer prohibited, and courts are authorized to conduct in-person proceedings on all matters, except those suspended by executive action by the Governor, including, but not limited to evictions.
Courts must continue to take measures to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces, with absolute minimum physical contact, to practice social distancing and limit in-person court capacity to 25% of the total capacity, as determined by the State Fire Marshall, counting both the number of employees and members of the public present in the building at one time. As this situation is constantly changing, courts are further instructed to follow all guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control, the President, and the Governor, and to further limit access to courtroom and other spaces to the maximum number of people set forth in any future guideline or official proclamation that may be issued. All matters should be conducted with the use of video and telephone conferencing whenever possible.
Please see below for additional court-specific information.
- Louisiana Supreme Court: All filings which were or are due to the Court from March 12, 2020 through June 5, 2020 shall be considered timely if filed no later than June 8, 2020. Parties who are unable to meet this deadline due to the COVID-19 emergency may submit motion for extensions of time, supported by appropriate documentation and argument.
- First Circuit Court of Appeal: The court is open with restricted access. The court encourages electronic filings and mail-in filings. The court continues to process all filings, and all cases with filed briefs will proceed to docketing and disposition. All deadlines set by the court, in all cases pending before the court, are extended until Friday, June 5, 2020. All filings due during the period of March 12, 2020 through June 5, 2020 or which become due during this period shall be deemed timely if filed on or before June 8, 2020. Parties who are unable to file within the extended time may submit a motion and order with supporting documentation and argument requesting reconsideration of timeliness or other such relief.
- Second Circuit Court of Appeal: All parties must submit filings via e-filing, mail or fax (fax filings are allowed only with prior notification and authorization from the Clerk of Court during normal court business hours). The next oral argument is scheduled for June 22-23, 2020, either in person or by videoconference, as directed by the court. Oral arguments for July 20-21, 2020 have been added to the court’s calendar to take place either in person or by videoconference, as directed by the court. The period of suspension of legal deadlines ending June 5, 2020 is considered a legal holiday such that pleadings due that day are due within seven days of the resumption of normal court operations (June 12, 2020), except that expedited matters, such as cases governed by Uniform Riles- Courts of Appeal, Rule 5 will be due on or before June 8, 2020.
- Third Circuit Court of Appeal: All deadlines are extended until June 5, 2020. All filings due during the period of March 12, 2020 through June 5, 2020 or which become due during this period shall be deemed timely if filed on or before June 8, 2020. All oral arguments scheduled to take place through April 30, 2020 and May 31, 2020 will be submitted on briefs. All filings must be submitted by email, U.S. mail, or fax filing.
- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal: The Court will have limited physical accessibility starting on May 18, 2020. All in-person filings must be deposited pursuant to written instructions in the lobby of the Supreme Court building (400 Royal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana). All oral arguments scheduled to take place through April 30, 2020 are continued unless parties notify the court to have their matters submitted on briefs. All filings due during the period of March 12, 2020 through June 5, 2020 or which become due during this period shall be deemed timely if filed on or before June 8, 2020.
- Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal: The court reopened on Monday, May 18, 2020. All filing deadlines for the court will be suspended until at least June 5, 2020. All filings otherwise due between March 12, 2020 and June 5, 2020 shall be considered timely if filed on or before June 8, 2020. The court will continue to accept email filings and fax filings as a courtesy until June 30, 2020. Convenience fees association with eFilings will remain waived as a courtesy until June 26, 2020.
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit: In-person oral arguments scheduled in New Orleans for April are cancelled. Parties are advised that the court has suspended until further notice the requirement to file paper copies of electronically filed pleadings and documents. The Clerk’s Office remains open for telephonic, electronic, and mail operations. The Clerk of the Court may direct the parties or counsel to provide paper copies of filings on a case-by-case basis, and at a future date, parties or counsel may be directed to provide paper copies of filings previously submitted electronically. All current deadlines for attorney filers remain in effect, except for those regarding production of paper copies. Extensions with justification may be requested from the Clerk’s Office following normal procedures and rules. The Court has authorized panels to conduct oral arguments using videoconferencing technology or by means of audioconferencing. The court will, when feasible, provide real-time public access to the audio-only portion of oral arguments that are conducted using videoconferencing technology or by means of audioconferencing. The Court expects that such access will be feasible for most if not all arguments.
- United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana: The court building is closed. All civil and criminal jury trials scheduled before or on August 1, 2020 are continued to a date to be reset by each presiding judge. With respect to other matters requiring in-person appearances, including bench trials, hearings, conferences, or other proceedings in either civil or criminal matters scheduled before or on August 1, 2020, counsel must contact the presiding judge’s chambers to determine whether and how the matter will proceed. Those continuances do not continue any pending deadlines other than the trial dates. Attorneys should contact the presiding judges in their continued cases if they seek to modify such other deadlines. Litigants may file documents electronically, by U.S. mail, or by facsimile. Due to concerns regarding COVID-19, until August 1, 2020, the Clerk’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana will not accept sealed documents on paper for filing. Sealed documents should be submitted by email to the Court.
- United States District Court, Middle District of Louisiana: All civil and criminal (bench and jury) trials are postponed to a date to be determined by the presiding judge on or after June 30, 2020. This postponement does not affect any other pending deadlines other than the pre-trial conference and trial dates. Parties seeking to modify other deadlines must do so by written motion. All civil evidentiary hearings and other in-court hearings and proceedings requiring personal appearances, on the dockets of the United States District Court and the United States Bankruptcy Court, set before June 30, 2020 are hereby postponed, to be reset by, and at the discretion of, the presiding judge. No in-person filings will be accepted through June 30, 2020 or until further order of this Court. Filings in sealed matters which are required to be filed conventionally (in-person) pursuant to administrative procedures shall be filed by facsimile by sending an electronically signed pleading in PDF format via encrypted or secure email (if available). Non-sealed pleadings and sealed pleadings that are not required to be filed conventionally pursuant to administrative procedures should not be submitted to this email box and must be submitted for filing through CM/ECF. Electronic filing via the CMECF system will be fully functional and help desk support will be available.
- United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana: Public access to the Louisiana Western District Clerk of Court Offices in all divisions is suspended through May 31, 2020. The court is closed to tenants and employees through May 8, 2020 and will reopen on May 11, 2020. All civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to begin on any date from now through July 1, 2020, are continued, to a date to be reset by each presiding judge. All other hearings, conferences and/or proceedings are subject to the discretion of the individual judge presiding over the proceeding. Any court filings or correspondence may be time-stamped and placed in the drop box located in each division. Any and all payments made to the Clerk, U. S. District Court for the payment of fines, fees, criminal debt or restitution must be made online via www.pay.gov or paid via money order or check and mailed to any divisional office.
- Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans: The court issued its last order on April 30, 2020, extending the closure of Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, First City Court, and Second City Court, until 8:00 AM on Monday, May 18, 2020. All civil jury trials are suspended until July 1, 2020. All civil hearings scheduled between May 1, 2020 and May 18, 2020 may proceed by video conference via Zoom or Skype platform with the consent of the parties. Additionally, the court’s prior order provides that all civil matters that are set during the closure are continued and will be reset by request or by order of the court, and the parties are instructed to contact the division clerk for further instructions. The court’s order does not prohibit any court proceeding by telephone, video conferencing, or any other means that do not involve in-person contact. And the court’s order does not affect the court’s consideration of matters that can be resolved without in-person proceedings. All judgments rendered by a First and Second City Court or Civil District Court judge during the suspension period will be mailed pursuant to La. C.C.P. article 1913, unless notice is waived, after May 15, 2020. With respect to the Civil Division of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, you can continue to electronically file (e-file) documents and can fax file documents. Additionally, the Clerk of Civil District Court has offered free subscriptions to the Remote Access system, including civil records and land records, to ensure public access. Existing subscriptions are being extended. For more information, please visit the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans’ website or the Clerk of Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans’ website
- 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge: The 19th Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge issued its last order on April 30, 2020, stating it is closed through the end of the business day on Friday, May 15, 2020. Those with pending criminal cases and civil matters set during this closure will be notified of a new court date. All dockets are cancelled except for emergency and time-sensitive matters as determined by the court that may be held by teleconference or video conference. The court’s order expressly does not prohibit any court proceedings by telephone, video conferencing, or any other means. The East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office will reopen its operations on Monday, May 18, 2020, and its hours will be 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday thru Friday. For more information, please visit the 19th Judicial District Court’s website or the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s website.
- 15th Judicial District Court for the Parishes of Acadia, Lafayette and Vermilion: As of May 18, 2020, the courthouses in Acadia, Lafayette, and Vermillion parishes are open on a limited basis in accordance with certain “Phase One COVID-19 guidelines,” and will close to the public at 4:00 PM each weekday to allow for additional sanitation measures. All people entering the courthouses must wear a mask or face covering that covers the nose and mouth. Civil hearings should be conducted via video and in scheduled time slots, unless good cause can be shown otherwise. All matters that must be taken up in person shall be done in a manner so as to limit the number of people in a courtroom or hallway to 25% capacity and to allow for 6 feet of distancing between people. Only those with direct business with the court are allowed in the courtrooms, and no one is allowed to go to a judge’s office without an appointment. And as per the April 22, 2020 Order of the Louisiana Supreme Court, no civil or criminal jury trials shall commence prior to June 30, 2020. For more information, please visit the 15th Judicial District Court’s website, the Acadia Parish Clerk of Court’s website, the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court’s website, or the Vermilion Parish Clerk of Court’s website.
- 1st Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo: As of May 18, 2020, the prior orders restricting access of the public to the courthouse are lifted, but all those entering the courthouse shall wear a mask covering their nose and mouth at all times unless instructed to remove it by courthouse security or court staff. No courtroom shall be permitted to contain, in the public gallery, more people than 25% of its public seating capacity. The court will strive to accomplish the goal of limited courtroom presence by the use of video, by staggering times for the appearance of litigants, and continuing matters that are not time-sensitive in favor of those that are. The court finds that the current health emergency continues to be a factor for the court’s consideration in what constitutes good grounds for continuance of all matters under Louisiana Civil Code Article 1601 to the extent that any continuance is necessary to comply with these orders. The Clerk of Court is directed that matters may be placed on a court’s docket for consent judgment or confirmation of preliminary default judgments only after the judge’s office has approved the setting. This is to confirm that dockets may comport with the court’s order regarding courtroom occupancy. The Caddo Parish Clerk of Court’s Office is now open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday thru Friday. It is still strongly suggested that persons utilize E-Recording/E-filing/Clerk Connect options due to the fact that admittance to the courthouse will be limited to 25% occupancy. For more information, please visit the Caddo Parish Clerk of Court’s website.
- 14th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Calcasieu: As of May 18, 2020, the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court’s Office is open from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday thru Friday, with limited access and services. The Court issued its last order on May 1, 2020, stating that prior orders of this court continuing all civil hearings are rescinded. Non-jury and non-in-person civil matters may proceed as outlined by the Louisiana Supreme Court’s orders regarding such matters. The following matters remain exempt from those orders: (1) civil protective orders; (2) emergency child custody matters; (3) matters of public health; and (4) matters deemed necessary by the Duty Judge as provided by the Louisiana Supreme Court order. A judge will be available at the courthouse between 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday thru Friday, to handle such matters. For more information, please visit the 14th Judicial District Court’s website or the Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court’s website.
For more information about state district courts, parish and city courts not mentioned here, visit the Louisiana Supreme Court website for frequently updated court information.