New local rules at the La. 5th Circuit
The Rule of Necessity applied in La.

What’s needed for a final, appealable judgment

In a recent decision, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit reminds us that a final judgment must be “signed by the judge.” La. Code Civ. P. art. 1911. But not just any judge; the judge who signs must be the judge who presided over the hearing or trial. Lassalle v. Napoleon, 2023-0705 (La. App. 4 Cir. 4/11/24). According to Lassalle, “[a] judgment signed by the wrong judge—a judge who did not preside over the hearing or trial—does not constitute a valid final judgment.” Id., p. 4

What happens if the presiding judge leaves office before signing the judgment? There’s a statute for that: La. R.S. 13:4209, which allows a successor judge to sign the judgment if certain requirements are met. Lassalle lists these requirements on pages 4–5, but finds that they were not met in that case.

My suggestion: If you ever need a judgment signed by a successor judge, read and comply with La. R.S. 13:4209. If the Fourth Circuit will be the reviewing court, read and follow Lassalle. If another court of appeal will be the reviewing court, you’d probably do well to read Lassalle and the cases it cites, and follow the strictest set of requirements you find in them. (And before you follow any of my suggestions, read my disclaimer.)


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