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August 2022

Researching backgrounds of appellate judges

If you ever need to research the background of a Louisiana Supreme Court justice or Louisiana Court of Appeal judge, here are a couple of places to start:

  • The Louisiana Free Enterprise Institute has a page on Louisiana’s judiciary. The LFEI is an organization created by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. The bios are organized by court, but there’s also a search feature that allows you to jump straight to a particular judge’a or justice’s bio.
  • Ballotpedia is more ambitious than the LFEI; it attempts to cover all elected offices in America. With a scope that broad, the site can be a chore to navigate. But don’t worry; just follow these links to Ballotpedia’s pages on the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Louisiana Courts of Appeal, and click on the name of the justice or justice you’re researching.

Amendments to Uniform Rules

If you consult Thomson Reuters Louisiana Rules of Court to look up the Uniform Rules of the Louisiana Courts of Appeal, you may have noticed something: a slew of amendments, scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2023. A committee headed by Louisiana First Circuit Judge Allison Penzato undertook a stem-to-stern revision of the entire body of Uniform Rules. The comprehensive revision was approved on May 2, 2022, and will kick in with the new year.

So what’s in store? I’ve been comparing the old rules with the new ones to see what’s different, and I’m about two-thirds of the way through that project. It looks like the committee had three goals. One was to update the rules to account for electronic filing. All five Louisiana courts of appeal now allow electronic filing, and for electronic filers (i.e. the vast majority of lawyers), that development makes rules applying only to paper obsolete, such as numbers of copies, binding of briefs and writ applications, etc. Another thing the committee accomplished was to adopt some uniform style choices—for example, always referring to the court itself as “the Court of Appeal,” always using “shall” for mandatory things, and using the same numbering system for tabulated lists. The third goal appears to have been to drop rules that have become obsolete. I’m about two-thirds of the way through comparing the old rules to the new ones, and so far, everything I’ve seen falls into at least one of these categories.

In some future posts, I hope to go through the rules one at a time to describe the amendments. I’m also working on finding a public-domain document containing the rules to take effect in 2023; so far, the only place I can find them is in the 2022 edition of the Thomson Reuters Louisiana Rules of Court book. If I can’t find a document like that, I may create my own and post it on this blog. So stay tuned.

If you’re counting on fax-filing for timeliness, . . .

. . . you need to make sure that the clerk receives the original document within seven days (excluding holidays) after the fax filing. Otherwise, the fax filing “shall have no force or effect.” La. R.S. 13:850. Timely mailing or sending isn’t enough. The orginal document must be “delivered” to the clerk of court within the seven-day period. La. R.S. 13:850(B). Otherwise, the fax-filing “shall have no force or effect,” and the pleading will be deemed filed on the day the clerk receives the original. La. R.S. 13:850(C).

The first lesson is obvious: When you fax-file a motion or petition for appeal, even when the fax-filing is timely, make sure the original is delivered to the clerk of court within seven days after fax filing. But there’s another way this rule can bite you if you’re not careful.

As we all know, a timely motion for new trial interrupts the time to take an appeal. See La. Code Civ. P. art. 2087(A)(2) (devolutive appeal); id. art. 2123(A)(2) suspensive appeal). If you’re counting on a fax-filed motion for new trial to interrupt the time to take an appeal, you must make sure that the clerk of court received the original motion for new trial within seven days after the fax-filing. Otherwise, the motion for new trial will be deemed filed when the clerk received the original. And if the clerk received the original more than seven days after notice of the adverse judgment, the motion for new trial will be deemed untimely (see La. Code Civ. P. art. 1974), and will not interrupt the appeal time. Which means that the appeal clock will have started ticking when the clerk sent notice of the adverse judgment, not when the clerk sent the later notice of the judgment denying new trial.

LASC: Expedited consideration requires expedited writ application

Starting September 1, if you want the Louisiana Supreme Court expedite its review of your writ application, you’ll need to do your part by filing your writ application with 10 days of the court of appeal’s judgment, not the usual 30 days. This amendment to Rule X § 5(a) takes effect on September 1. A comment to the amending order explains the reason for this change:

Applications requesting expedited review place a considerable burden on the resources of the court and its staff. The court’s ability to address such applications in an orderly fashion can be significantly impaired when applicants elect to wait to until the last day of the thirty-day period following the court of appeal’s disposition to request expedited attention in this court. Although this rule does not change the general thirtyday filing period set forth in La. Code Civ. P. art. 2166, it makes it clear that any request for expedited review must be made promptly. If an application seeking priority review is not filed within at least ten days following the court of appeal’s disposition and the applicant fails to show good cause for the delay, the court retains the discretion to summarily deny the request for priority review and/or impose other sanctions pursuant to La. Code Civ. P. art. 2164.

To read the amending order, follow this link. To read the LASC’s press release announcing the amendment, follow this link.