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May 2013

Electronic notices from the Louisiana First Circuit

This post is the second in a series on monitoring case developments in Louisiana appellate courts. Last Tuesday, we looked at the Louisiana Supreme Court. Today we look at the Louisiana First Circuit.

The First Circuit offers lawyers practicing before it the option of receiving e-mail notices from the court in lieu of notice by mail. You can register by visiting this web page, filling in the boxes, and checking the box indicating agreement to receive e-mail notice in lieu of traditional notice by mail. Other pages allow you to change your e-mail address and cancel your registration. To learn more about the program, visit the court’s FAQ page.

Once you register, you no longer receive notices by mail. Instead, you receive them as PDF attachments to an e-mail.

I have been using the court e-notify system since it was originally introduced, and it has worked well for me. Frankly, I don’t know why any lawyer practicing in the First Circuit would not register for this service. If your opponent registers and you don’t, your opponent will learn of the decision at least a day before you do. And if you are on the losing end of the decision, that’s at least one less day to work on your rehearing application or your writ application to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

The First Circuit’s e-mail notification works only for cases in which you are a counsel of record. As far as I can tell, the court does not yet provide electronic notification of when opinions in general are issued. But the court (like all Louisiana appellate courts) publishes all its opinions on its web site. And the court also publishes its schedule of decision days, with publication date based on the month of oral argument. So once a case you’re interested in has been orally argued or submitted without oral argument, you can check the schedule to see when the opinion should be released and calendar the date. If you’re interested in generally monitoring all of the court’s decisions, just calendar all the scheduled opinion days and, when an appointed day arrives, check the opinions page.

How I monitor the Louisiana Supreme Court

When a court decides your case, you want to know immediately. Some courts (for example, the Louisiana First and Fourth Circuits) offer e-mail notice of decisions to counsel of record; those e-mails usually go out the same day that the decision is released. Other courts continue to rely on notice by U.S. Mail, meaning that the decision does not arrive until, at the earliest, the day after it is released.

Fortunately, each Louisiana appellate court’s web site offers some means of monitoring the issuance of decisions. This blog post is the first in a series on that topic. We will start at the top with the Louisiana Supreme Court.

If you go to the LSC’s home page and look in the right-hand column, you will see a link to the Court’s News Release Alert Service. If you click on the link and follow the directions, you will receive an e-mail whenever the Court issues a news release. A news release comes out whenever the Court announces the issuance of opinions and orders (i.e. writ grants, writ denials, decisions on rehearing). The e-mail will contain a link to the news release. Clicking on that link will take you to a page listing the Court’s latest opinions, orders, or other actions, usually on the same day that they are announced.

While the e-mail subscription service works well most of the time, I have found that, on rare occasions, the e-mail arrives a day or two late. So I take the added step of subscribing to the Court’s RSS service. The link for that is in the right-hand column of the LSC’s home page, directly below the link for the e-mail news alerts. Whenever the Court issues a news release, the release is sent to my RSS reader (I use Feedly), which I also use to follow blogs that I like. While the LSC’s e-mail service works well most of the time, I’ve found the RSS service to be as timely and more reliable. Also, unlike the e-mail service, the RSS service sends an announcement whenever an oral-argument docket is posted. Because it includes oral-argument dockets, the RSS service provides greater coverage than the e-mail service.

Feed-icon32x32So what is this RSS? A simple explanation can be found here, and a more detailed one here. For readers, RSS is a means to monitor new posts to web logs and other web sites (e.g. the Louisiana Supreme Court and the U.S. Fifth Circuit) without having to visit the individual sites. The posts and other announcements are aggregated in your RSS reader, allowing you to scan them on a single web page without having to visit each individual web site. As noted in my April 25 post, I have been using Feedly as my RSS reader, and so far I love it.

Pardon my shameless self-promotion.

Yesterday the good folks at Law360 Appellate published this little Q&A with yours truly. Reading it requires either a subscription or a one-time free registration in which they collect your name and e-mail address.1 Among the more interesting questions they asked:

  • What aspects of your practice area are in need of reform and why? (Short answer: the high cost of preparing the record for an appeal.)
  • What is an important issue or case relevant to your practice area and why? (Short answer: Gonzales v. Xerox Corp., discussed in this post.)


1 It’s a LexisNexis company, so they probably already have your e-mail address anyway.

Why I blog about things I barely know

Today’s Daily Meditation by Henri Nouwen describes the satisfaction I get from blogging:

Often we think that we do not know enough to be able to teach others. We might even become hesitant to tell others what we know, out of fear that we won’t have anything left to say when we are asked for more.

This mind-set makes us anxious, secretive, possessive, and self-conscious. But when we have the courage to share generously with others all that we know, whenever they ask for it, we soon discover that we know a lot more than we thought. It is only by giving generously from the well of our knowledge that we discover how deep that well is.

If you ever considered starting your own blog, maybe this will be a word of encouragement.

For appellate lawyers: how to brief preservation of error

Over at Texas Appellate Watch, Rich Phillips has a useful tip for briefing the appellate court on preservation of error. In short: describe each instance where the issue was raised in the trial court and shot down by the trial judge. Not just the first intance or the last instance, but each instance. And of course, provide a record citation for each instance. Rich cites a Texas case to support his point, but the lesson applies in any appellate court in any jurisdiction.