COVID-19 La.3 Cir.

Many deadlines extended to July 6

On June 9, 2020, Act No. 162 of the Louisiana Legislature’s 2020 Regular Session became effective with the governor’s signature. This legislation enacts La. R.S. 9:5858 through 5830. To download a copy of Act No. 162, follow this link.

Section 9:5828 ratifies Governor Edwards’s various executive orders extending prescription, peremption, and other legal deadlines in Louisiana. Section 9:5829 continues the suspension of prescription, peremption, and abandonment through July 5, 2020, with expiration on July 6. But the suspension applies only to deadlines that otherwise would have expired between March 17 through July 5, 2020. 

Section 9:5830 continues the suspension of all “deadlines in legal proceedings that were suspended” by the governor’s executive orders until July 6. But like § 9:5829, § 9:5830 applies only to deadlines that otherwise would have expired between March 17 and July 5, 2020.

Within the last few days, at least four of the five Louisiana courts of appeal have issued orders conforming their deadlines to Act No. 162. Under these orders, any filings that otherwise would have been due from the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency through July 5, 2020 will be timely if filed by July 6, 2020. Here are links to those orders:

 As I was writing this post, the Louisiana Supreme Court and Louisiana Fifth Circuit had not yet posted orders responding to Act No. 162. If and when they do, I’ll write a follow-up post on this blog. Stay tuned.

La. 3rd Circuit extends deadlines to May 18

Today the Louisiana Third Circuit issued an order extending its prior COVID-19 orders through May 15. Under today’s order, anything that would have been due between March 12 and May 15, 2020 will be timely if filed on May 18.

Like the First Circuit’s order yesterday, the Third Circuit’s order includes a “clarification” about briefing deadlines:  “]I]f an appellant's brief due date falls within the suspension period or the appellant's brief is filed within the suspension period, the appellee brief(s) will be due 20 days after the lifting of the suspension, June 4, 2020.”

For a copy of today’s order by the Third Circuit, follow this link.

Recapping where we are with COVID-19

Governor John Bel Edwards says that, early next week, he will announce the first phase of the state’s reopening. In anticipation of that announcement, I thought I’d recap our current situation with legal deadlines in the Louisiana Supreme Court and the courts of appeal. Why? Because, depending on the court, many filings that would have been due in March or April may need to be filed by Friday, May 1, or Monday, May 4.

In La. Proclamation No. 30 JBE 2020 (Mar. 16, 2020), the governor suspended “legal deadlines, including liberative prescription and peremptive periods applicable to legal proceedings in all courts” until at least April 13. The same suspension applied to “all other deadlines in legal proceedings in all courts ....” This proclamation directed the courts to “implement and interpret the provisions of this Order.” The suspension became effective at midnight on March 17, 2020. In La. Proclamation No. 41 JBE 2020 (Apr. 2, 2020), the governor extended these deadlines suspensions “until at least Monday, April 30, 2020.”

The word suspended may be important. Of course, I don’t claim any authority to interpret the governor’s order. With that caveat, I’m reminded of the Civil Code’s distinction between suspension and interruption of prescription. When prescription is interrupted, “the time that has run is not counted”; instead, prescription begins “to run anew from the last day of interruption.” La. Civ. Code art. 3466. In contrast, when prescription is suspended, “the period of suspension is not counted toward accrual of prescription,” and “[p]rescription commences to run again” when the suspension period ends. La. Civ. Code art. 3472. In other words, suspension merely stops the clock; it doesn’t reset the clock. I don’t know whether courts will refer to these Civil Code articles when interpreting suspended in the governor’s order, but it may be prudent to take the conservative approach and assume that the governor’s order merely stopped the clocks, as opposed to resetting them to zero, and that any legal delays will resume when 41 JBE 2020 ends.

Against that backdrop, the Louisiana Supreme Court has issued several orders implementing the governor’s orders. Most important to lawyers practicing in the Louisiana Supreme Court is the Court’s April 6, 2020 order suspending its own deadlines. Under this order, any filings due between March 12, 2002 through May 1, 2020 will be deemed timely if filed no later than Monday, May 4, 2020. 

Following the Louisiana Supreme Court’s lead, all five courts of appeal have issued their own orders adopting the same suspension of deadlines, with a few tweaks to the date filings are due once the suspension is lifted. Here are links to those orders:

Some of these deadlines may change, depending on the governor’s actions and the courts’ responses within the next few days. But as things stand now, a lot of stuff that’s been on hold during the COVID-19 emergency is going to be due next Friday or the following Monday.

p.s. One more wrinkle: In New Orleans, home of the Louisiana Supreme Court and Louisiana Fourth Circuit, the mayor has extended the stay-home order through May 15. While that order doesn’t address deadlines, it may affect the LASC’s and Fourth Circuit’s operations. To download a copy of that order, follow this link.

La. 3rd Circuit extends its COVID-19 order through April 30

The Louisiana Third Circuit has issued an order today following the governor’s April 2 stay-home order. According to today’s order, access to the Third Circuit’s courthouse will remain restricted through April 30. The Third Circuit has also suspended all of its own deadlines until at least April 30; any filings due through April 30 will be timely if filed by May 1. To download a copy of today’s order by the Third Circuit, follow this link.

Related links:

Status of La. 3rd Circuit during COVID-19 emergency

Today the Louisiana Third Circuit issued a notice about its current operations during the COVID-19 emergency. To download a copy of the notice, follow this link. Here are some highlights:

  • Although the Third Circuit courthouse is closed, the Third Circuit is continuing to conduct business, with most of its personnel working remotely.
  • During the emergency, the Third Circuit is accepting filings by email, fax, and U.S. Mail.
  • Unlike the other Louisiana appellate courts, the Third Circuit is continuing to accept in-person filings, but subject to the court’s March 18 notice restricting access to the courthouse.
  • Appeal records remain available, both on paper and electronically. Today’s notice provides details on that.

La. 3rd Circuit’s response to the COVID-19 emergency

The Louisiana Third Circuit has announced two orders related to the COVID-19 emergency, both signed yesterday by the chief judge. The orders do a number of things:

  • All oral arguments “currently scheduled to take place through April 30, 2020 and May 31, 2020 are to have their matters submitted on briefs ....”
  • All filings must be made by fax or email. (For how to do that, see Internal Rule 12.)
  • Like the other courts of appeal, the Third Circuit has decreed a legal holiday through April 13, 2020, and set a deadline of April 20 to file anything that would otherwise be due during the legal holiday.
  • Finally, like the other courts of appeal, the Third Circuit has restricted physical access to the courthouse.

To download the orders, follow this link and this link.