Today I attended an interesting one-hour CLE at the Louisiana Fourth Circuit. It was part of the New Orleans Bar Association’s Approach the Bench series. Judge Rosemary Ledet and Clerk of Court Danielle Schott talked about some of the court’s inner workings. The best part of this CLE hour was the price: free for NOBA members; $25 for non-members.
One thing I learned is how 3-judge panels are drawn for supervisory-writ applications. Each non-emergency writ application is randomly assigned as it is filed. This means that if two writ applications are filed in the same day, each will have its own randomly-assigned panel. Emergency writ applications are handled differently. The court has something akin to the duty judge you often find in a district court: one 3-judge panel assigned to emergency-writ duty for a particular week. Please note that this system is not necessarily used in the other courts of appeal; it’s the Fourth Circuit’s own system.
Another thing I learned concerns the court’s practice of e-mailing notices of orders and decisions to lawyers involved in an appeal or a writ application. In that area, the clerk’s office is pro-active. You don’t need to sign up for e-mail notices; the clerk’s office will use your bar number to get your e-mail address from the LSBA web site, and put you on the e-mail distribution list for the case. Some things you can do to help this process: Keep your e-mail address with the LSBA up to date. Notify the clerk’s office if your e-mail address changes. And always include your e-mail address in your signature block. (You were doing that already, right?)