The CityBusiness reports in an article yesterday (“N.O. Jury Trials Could Return in March”) that Orleans Criminal Court Chief Judge Calvin Johnson says that criminal jury trials will resume in March 2006, and the first post-Katrina grand jury could be convened in February.
This contrasts sharply with the prospects for civil jury trials, according to an article from the Gannett News Service, http://www.thenewsstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060116/NEWS01/601160310/1002 entitled “Courts Sag Under Katrina Suits.”
In this article, Robert Kleinpeter, president of the Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association, is quoted thus: “It’s a given they’re not expecting any jury trials in Orleans Parish, St. Bernard (Parish) and probably Plaquemines Parish” until 2007.
However, the article later notes that “Civil District Court Judge Madeleine Landrieu…says there’s no way to gauge how many people will respond to jury summonses, which civil courts will begin to issue those summonses again in March 2006.” As with so many overwhelming problems associated with the storm’s aftermath, one simply must start somewhere.
According to the Gannett article, the Trial Lawyers Association has asked the Louisiana Legislature to raise the minimum amount necessary for a jury trial to $250,000 from the present threshold of $50,000.