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May 2021

Proposed expansion of the LASC from 7 to 9 justices

There’s a bill in the Louisiana Senate that, if approved by two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature and a majority of voters, would amend the Louisiana Constitution to expand the Louisiana Supreme Court from seven to nine justices, effective January 1, 2025. According to the Louisiana Illuminator, the bill had bipartisan support. The Illuminator gives this summary of the reasons for this proposal:

Both Republicans and Democrats are hoping to gain something from the bill, and lawmakers see it as an opportunity to have some control over the redrawing of state Supreme Court district lines before the U.S. Supreme Court does it for them. Federal voting rights lawsuits are still pending over the demographic makeup of Louisiana’s current districts. They allege that current district lines dilute the voices of Black voters. Democrats, particularly the Legislative Black Caucus, see the bill as an opportunity to gain more representation on the state’s highest court, while Republicans want more equal populations among the districts. 

The U.S. Fifth Circuit’s “Rule of Orderliness”

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Fifth Circuit issued an interesting decision about the court’s “rule of orderliness,” which is another name for law of the circuit: Douglas v. Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, No. 20-30382 (5th Cir. Apr. 30, 2021). The issue was one for civil-procedure fans: the proper framework for analyzing personal jurisdiction under the Due Process clause of the Fifth (as opposed to Fourteenth) Amendment. Long story short: the panel agreed that the plaintiffs’ argument, but reluctantly followed circuit precedent, which led to a contrary result. In a concurring opinion, Judge Elrod (joined by Judge Willett) suggested that "[t]his case presents a good vehicle for our en banc court to correct our course ....”

For lawyers practicing in the Fifth Circuit, this case is a good lesson on how binding circuit precedent is in the Fifth Circuit. If you’re looking to overrule circuit precedent, you might save time by move for en banc hearing in the first instance under Fed. R. Civ. P. 35.

Hat tip to my colleague Martin Stern for spotting this case.

For “Bridging the Gap” participants

Today, I gave a one-hour CLE presentation on appellate practice for the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Bridging the Gap webinar for newly sworn-in lawyers. For the participants and anyone else who may be interested, here are some bonus goodies.

First, here are some resources on typography:

Next, here are some sample briefs and motions. I offer these with the caution to avoid over-reliance on others’ work product for other cases

Finally, in case you missed the presentation: