The coronavirus continues to adversely impact so many, and the court systems across the country are adapting in kind. On April 2, 2020, Louisiana’s Governor in Proclamation JBE 2020-41 suspended all legal deadlines at least until April 30, 2020. Further, the Louisiana Supreme Court has issued orders over the last few weeks to help the court system navigate through these challenging times of our increasingly disrupted world. Below is a digest of the most up-to-date information regarding courts in Louisiana as of the time of this posting.
On April 22, 2020, the Supreme Court amended its April 6, 2020 order as it pertains to jury trials and remote proceedings.
As of April 6 2020, the Louisiana Supreme Court repealed all of its former orders and replaced it to continue all civil bench trials, hearings, and court appearances scheduled to commence in any Louisiana state court before May 1, 2020, to be reset by local order for a later date no earlier than May 4, 2020. All jury trial, civil or criminal, were continued until June 30, 2020 pursuant to the Louisiana Supreme Court’s April 22, 2020 order.
Until at least May 4, 2020, courts may only conduct in-person proceedings to address emergency matters that cannot be resolved virtually. 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 activity to only the emergency matters. 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 emergency matters should be conducted with the use of video and telephone conferencing whenever possible.
Hearings related to civil protective orders, child in need of care proceedings, emergency child custody matters, proceedings for children removed from their home by emergency court order, proceedings related to emergency interdictions and mental health orders, temporary restraining orders and mental health orders, and matters of public health related to this crisis and other emergency matters necessary to protect the health, safety and liberty of individuals as determined by each court are considered emergency civil matters that should be conducted via video and/or telephone conferencing.
Court proceedings by telephone, video, teleconferencing or any other means that do not involve in-person contact may proceed with consent of all parties and the judge. Further, courts may consider matters that can be resolved without in-person proceedings. Per its April 22, 2020 order, the Louisiana Supreme Court ordered that consent for remote proceedings in civil matters “shall not be unreasonably withheld by any party” and provided that a trial judge can enforce this Order “pursuant to authority granted by the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 191 or as expressly provided by law.”
Courts should work with parish clerks to encourage in-person filings of court pleadings to be replaced with filing by other means, such as U.S. mail, e-filing, email or facsimile. In all criminal, juvenile and civil matters handled on an emergency or expedited basis, a record shall be kept under the direction of the acting judge for each action.
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 May 1, 2020 shall be considered timely if filed no later than May 4, 2020.
- First Circuit Court of Appeal: The court is closed until April 30, 2020 unless extended by further order. The court will still handle administration of emergency matters. All oral arguments are continued without date and will be scheduled to take place as soon as possible after May 1, 2020. The court will accept filings via U.S. Mail and e-filing. All deadlines set by the court in all cases pending before the court are extended until Friday, May, 1, 2020. All filings due during the period of March 12, 2020 through May 1, 2020 or which become due during this period shall be deemed timely if filed on or before May 1, 2020.
- 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). Payments for fax or e-filing fees must be mailed. No in-person filings will be accepted. The entire April docket has been re-set for May 18, 2020.
- Third Circuit Court of Appeal: The courthouse shall maintain restricted access until April 30, 2020 and will reopen on May 1, 2020 unless extended by further order. All deadlines are extended until April 30, 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. For purposes of computing the timeliness of filings, this period of suspension shall be considered a legal holiday; and therefore, pleadings otherwise due in this Court during this legal holiday shall be deemed timely if filed on or before Friday, May 1, 2020.
- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal: 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 must be submitted via e-filing. The court will send all notices by electronic means.
- Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal: The court is closed, but court operations are occurring remotely. All filing deadlines for the court will be suspended until at least May 1, 2020. For purposes of computing the timeliness of filings, this period of suspension shall be considered a legal holiday; and therefore, pleadings otherwise due in this court during this legal holiday shall be deemed timely if filed on or before May 4, 2020. Appellee briefs otherwise due between March 12, 2020 and May 1, 2020 shall be considered timely if filed on or before May 26, 2020. The court will accept e-filings and emergency fax filings while closed. Filings by mail will be processed as circumstances allow. No in-person filings are allowed.
- 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 bench and jury trials, hearings, proceedings and conferences scheduled before or on May 1, 2020 are continued to a date to be reset by each presiding judge. 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 May 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 May 1, 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 April 30, 2020 are hereby postponed, to be reset by, and at the discretion of, the presiding judge. Prescriptive, peremptive and statute of limitation deadlines are hereby suspended until April 30, 2020. No in-person filings will be accepted through April 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: 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: On April 7, 2020, the court issued an order 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 4, 2020. 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 after April 30, 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 is closed until 8:00 AM on Friday, May 1, 2020, and 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 be closed to the general public through April 30, 2020, except that it will be open only for emergency filings between the hours of 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM Monday thru Friday. During this period of closure, e-filing through Clerk Connect and fax filing will be accepted. For more information, please visit either the 19th Judicial District Court’s website or the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court’s website.
- 15th Judicial District Court for the Parishes of Acadia, Lafayette and Vermilion: In all parishes, the courthouses shall be closed to the public except to provide services in the following categories: (1) civil domestic protective orders under title 46:2131 (domestic violence), 46:2181 (post-separation family violence), and 9:361 (sexual abuse); (2) emergency child custody matters pursuant to La. C.C.P. article 3945; (3) proceedings for children removed from their home by emergency court order; and (4) emergency interdiction/commitment matters. All civil jury trials scheduled to commence during the month of May are continued and shall be reset by order of the judge in each division in which such civil jury trials are scheduled. In Lafayette Parish, the public is instructed to call the Clerk’s Office between the hours of 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday. And in Acadia Parish, the public is instructed to call the Clerk’s Office between the hours of 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM Monday thru Friday for emergencies or questions until further notice. 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: The Court’s website advises that you should not come to the courthouse unless absolutely necessary, and you will only be allowed in the courthouse if necessary. Through May 1, 2020, all civil and domestic trials, hearings and court appearances are hereby continued, to be reset by order with the following exceptions: (1) civil protective orders; (2) emergency child custody matters pursuant to La. C.C.P. article 3945; (3) emergency interdictions; (4) public health matters related to the current health emergency; (5) civil commitments where the party is in continued involuntary custody; and (6) any matter in which a rule to show cause is granted after the moving party sets forth written grounds why the matter should proceed despite the concerns surrounding the coronavirus and that rule is set for hearing by the court. 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. The Clerk’s Office will be open from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM Monday thru Friday until further notice. A small staff will be on hand until 4:30 PM Monday thru Friday to answer phones and to complete filings and e-recordings. For more information, please visit the Caddo Parish Clerk of Court’s website.
- 14th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Calcasieu: All civil hearings and court appearances set for any date between March 23, 2020 and May 4, 2020, are hereby continued to a date to be reset by the appropriate judge, except for the following: (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. The Clerk’s Office has no public access except for filings pursuant to the Louisiana Protective Order statutes, pursuant to Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure articles 3945 and 3601, and to request a property bond for the purpose of bonding someone out of jail. Through May 1, 2020, the Clerk’s Office has reduced hours from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM Monday thru Friday. All business with the Clerk’s Office at this time should be only that which is deemed an emergency or critical in nature. Customers are encouraged to use e-recording, e-filing, fax filing, US mail, Fed-Ex, or UPS when available for matters that are urgent, as Document Exchange will no longer be staffed at the door. For more information, please visit 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.