Louisiana briefs: How I do my cover pages
Personnel changes at the La. 5th Circuit

The jurisdictional statement: Tell them something they don’t already know.

The content of an appellant’s brief in a Louisiana court of appeal is governed by Uniform Rule 2-12.4. The first thing that Rule 2-12.4 requires the brief to do is to “set forth the jurisdiction of the court ....” Many lawyers touch this base by cutting and pasting something generic, like this:

This Honorable Court has jurisdiction under Article V Section 10 of the Louisiana Constitution.

I never write a jurisdictional statement like this. Why? Because I operate under two assumptions:

  1. The readers—judges and their law clerks—want me to tell them something they don’t already know.
  2. That “something” should explain, not the court’s jurisdiction in the entire legal universe, but the court’s jurisdiction in this specific case.

Rule 2-12.4 doesn’t say what information to include in a jurisdictional statement. So I take a cue from Fed. R. App. P. 28(a)(4) and include the following information in my jurisdictional statement:

  • The statutory basis for the court’s jurisdiction and the relevant facts establishing jurisdiction.
  • An assertion (supported by record citation) that the judgment appealed from is an appealable judgment, often with citation to the statute or codal article under which the judgment is appealable.
  • The filing dates establishing the timeliness of the appeal.

Here is an example:

This Court has jurisdiction of this civil appeal under La. Code Civ. P. arts. 1911, 1915(B), and 2088. The judgment appealed from grants partial summary judgment on an incidental demand (a third-party complaint). The trial court designated the judgment as final under art. 1915(B)(1), making an express determination that there is no just reason for delay. [Footnote citation to record.]

The appellant has timely perfected this appeal. The clerk of court mailed notice of judgment on April 27, 2012. [Footnote citation to record.] Thus, the deadline to apply for new trial was May 8, 2012, and the deadline to take a devolutive appeal was 60 days thereafter, or Monday, July 9, 2012. See La. Code Civ. P. arts. 1974 and 2087(A)(1). Appellant filed its motion for appeal on June 7, 2012, and the trial court signed the order of devolutive appeal on June 12, 2012. [Footnote citation to record.]

Question for court personnel: What information do you want to see in the jurisdictional statement? What purpose does the jurisdictional statement serve for you?

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