COVID-19 La.4 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. 4th Circuit extends deadlines to June 16

Like the Louisiana Supreme Court and other Louisiana courts of appeal, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit just issued an order extending its deadlines to June 16. Filings in that court that otherwise would have been due between March 12 and June 15, 2020 will be timely if filed by June 16. To download a copy of today’s Fourth Circuit order, follow this link.

It looks like June 16 is going to be a busy day in the Louisiana appellate world. Barring yet another extension of legal deadlines, that’s when a lot of stuff held up by the COVID-19 emergency is going to be due in the Louisiana Supreme Court and the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. In the Fifth Circuit, litigants will have until June 19.


La. 4th Circuit extends deadlines to June 8

Today the Louisiana Fourth Circuit issued an order extending its own deadlines in response to the COVID-19 emergency and the governor’s latest extension of legal deadlines. Under today’s order, any filings that otherwise would be due between March 12 and June 5, 2020 will be timely if filed no later than June 8. To download a copy of this order, follow this link.


La. 4th Cir. extends deadlines to May 18

Following the Louisiana Supreme Court’s lead, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit has issued an order extending deadlines to conform with the governor’s latest extension of the stay-home order. The Fourth Circuit courthouse (same building as the Louisiana Supreme Court) will remain “physically inaccessible” through May 15, 2020 and is scheduled to reopen on May 18. Any filings otherwise due between March 12 and May 15, 2020 will be deemed timely if filed by Monday May 18, 2020. To download a copy of the Fourth Circuit’s order, 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. Fourth Circuit orders certain cases to be submitted on briefs

The Louisiana Fourth Circuit recently uploaded to its web site an order signed yesterday, stating that seven cases previously docketed for oral argument “will be deemed submitted on the briefs ....” The order further states that “all matters docketed for submission before this Court prior to July 1, 2020 will be submitted on the briefs in each matter without oral argument.” To download a copy of this order, follow this link.


Follow-up order by the La. 4th Circuit

On April 6, I reported on the Louisiana Fourth Circuit’s order extending its closure and suspension of its own deadlines through April 30. Recently, the Fourth Circuit uploaded another order to its web site, dated April 7, 2020. The April 7 order adopts the Louisiana Supreme Court's order of April 6, 2020, decreeing that the Fourth Circuit (which shares a building with the Louisiana Supreme Court) “shall remain physically inaccessible through May 1, 2020 and will reopen on May 4, 2020,” with the possibility of reopening either earlier or later, depending on further orders from the Fourth Circuit or Louisiana Supreme Court. The April 7 order also deems the time through May 1 to be a legal holiday; any filings otherwise due within the legal holiday will be timely if filed no later than May 4. To download a copy of the Fourth Circuit's April 7, order, follow this link.


La. 4th Circuit extends closure and deadlines through April 30

The Louisiana Fourth Circuit has joined the First, Third, and Fifth Circuits in following the governor’s April 2 order, extending the stay-home order and legal deadlines through April 30. Under today’s order, the Fourth Circuit courthouse will remain “inaccessible” through April 30, reopening on May 1 “or at an earlier or later date depending [on] further order of [the] Court ....” Likewise, the Fourth Circuit has extended all of its deadlines falling within the April 30 closure period; those filings will be deemed timely if filed no later than May 1, 2020. To download a copy of today’s order by the Fourth Circuit, follow this link.

To see my March 18 blog post linking to the Fourth Circuit’s prior orders, follow this link.


La. 4th Circuit’s superseding order on COVID-19 issued today

Today the Louisiana Fourth Circuit issued an order responding to the COVID-19 emergency and superseding the court’s March 16 order (see this prior blog post). Like the March 16 order, today’s order continues without date all oral arguments scheduled through April 30, requires all filings with the court to be made electronically, and orders that all notices from the court be sent only electronically. Today’s order incorporates Governor Edwards’s executive order JBE 2020-30 and decrees the time between now and April 13, 2020 to be a legal holiday. Any filings otherwise due between now and April 13 are now due within seven days after April 13, or by April 20.

To download a copy of today’s order, follow this link.


La. 4th Circuit order responding to COVID-19

Yesterday the Louisiana Fourth Circuit issued an order responding to the COVID-19 emergency. To download a copy, follow this link. The order does three things:

  • It continues, without date, all oral arguments that had been set through April 30, 2020. Parties to those cases may notify the court if they want their cases decided on the briefs.
  • It requires all filings to be made electronically, waiving the convenience fee.
  • It orders that all court notices normally made by mail will be made electronically only.