Yes, you can take your smart phone to the U.S. Fifth Circuit

In a case I’m involved in at the U.S. Fifth Circuit, we recently received, along with the notice of oral argument, this notice of the court’s new policy on admitting electronic devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers. Bottom line: you can take your smart phone or tablet with you; you just need to power it down before entering the courtroom. Counsel presenting oral argument or assisting at counsel table may use a laptop or tablet computer, but must not use these devices to take pictures or photos, or to post to social media inside the courtroom.


p.s. (3 Mar. 2015): For some reason, the link to the Fifth Circuit document did not work for me in MS Internet Explorer. I had no trouble using the link in Google Chrome. I haven’t tried it in Firefox.

p.p.s.: At iPhone JD, Jeff Richardson has a detailed post on this topic and on the general use of electronic devices in court.

Coming soon: e-filing at the La. 1st Circuit

The Louisiana First Circuit announced today that e-filing there will be available starting this Monday, June 16. To learn how the system will work, read newly adopted Local Rule 8 and the court’s FAQ sheet.

One requirement the First Circuit will have that I have not yet seen elsewhere is an electronic signature. Most of us are accustomed to “signing” a document by typing “/s/ [name]” above the signature line when creating the document in Word or WordPerfect. That may not do for the First Circuit. Local Rule 8 defines electronic signature as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a document and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the document.” If you don’t know how to sign a document electronically, do not fear; just visit this Adobe web page and watch the little instructional video.

If you sign up for e-filing with the La. Supreme Court, ...

If you register for e-filing with the Louisiana Supreme Court, here is a tip that may save you some time: You must enter your contact information exactly as it appears in the Louisiana State Bar Association’s membership directory. If your e-file registration information does not match your LSBA directory information exactly, the administrator will reject your application. This goes not just for your e-mail address, but also for your other contact information. I recommend that you pull up your LSBA directory info in one browser window or tab, pull up the e-file registration form in another, and copy and paste from the directory to the registration form.

I didn’t know this until I tried to register myself; it took three tries over two working days to give them exactly what they wanted. Part of the problem is that I have more than one office e-mail address; another part is the variety of ways one can address mail to the 45th floor of One Shell Square. Nevertheless, after two rejection e-mails, I figured it out.

Here is another tip: Don’t wait until you have to file something before registering. It will take the administrator about a day to approve or reject your registration. You can telephone someone if you need immediate approval, but you probably don’t want to add this to your list of deadline-day anxieties. Because of the way the process works, the time to register is when you’re not up against a deadline.

La. 5th Circuit’s electronic-notice system

The Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal has introduced a system for electronic notification. I just registered a minute ago, so I can’t give you a review of its operation. Here is the blurb describing what it will do:

With our eNotification service, you will receive instant notification of filings via email rather than through the mail. In addition, detailed information regarding your cases is available online through our portal.

Although I can’t tell you yet how well the Louisiana Fifth Circuit's system works, in my experience, the electronic-notice systems at the Louisiana First and Fourth Circuits work well, providing same-day notice of any action taken by the court in my cases. To read about and register for the Louisiana Fifth Circuit’s system, click here.

La. Second and Third Circuit e-mail alerts

In two prior posts, I shared how I monitor the doings at the Louisiana Supreme Court and the Louisiana First Circuit. Today we will look at the Second and Third Circuits.

Like the Louisiana Supreme Court, both the Second and Third Circuits offer an e-mail alert service. The alerts are not case-specific; they simply inform you that new decisions have been uploaded to the court’s web site. A hyperlink in the e-mail takes you to the opinions page, where you can scan the case names and docket numbers of the new decisions, and download a PDF of any decision that interests you.

The systems are simple but effective. Though I only recently subscribed to the Second Circuit’s service, I’ve been a Third Circuit subscriber for quite a while. For whatever reason, I’ve had many cases in the Third Circuit lately. And by subscribing to the Third Circuit’s e-mail alerts, I’ve learned about decisions in my cases the same morning that the decisions were released.

To subscribe to the Second Circuit’s e-mail alerts, just go to the court’s home page, click on Subscribe in the navigation bar, and follow the directions. For the Third Circuit, go to the court’s home page, click on Opinions in the left sidebar, and click on the subscription hyperlink.

Electronic notices from the Louisiana First Circuit

This post is the second in a series on monitoring case developments in Louisiana appellate courts. Last Tuesday, we looked at the Louisiana Supreme Court. Today we look at the Louisiana First Circuit.

The First Circuit offers lawyers practicing before it the option of receiving e-mail notices from the court in lieu of notice by mail. You can register by visiting this web page, filling in the boxes, and checking the box indicating agreement to receive e-mail notice in lieu of traditional notice by mail. Other pages allow you to change your e-mail address and cancel your registration. To learn more about the program, visit the court’s FAQ page.

Once you register, you no longer receive notices by mail. Instead, you receive them as PDF attachments to an e-mail.

I have been using the court e-notify system since it was originally introduced, and it has worked well for me. Frankly, I don’t know why any lawyer practicing in the First Circuit would not register for this service. If your opponent registers and you don’t, your opponent will learn of the decision at least a day before you do. And if you are on the losing end of the decision, that’s at least one less day to work on your rehearing application or your writ application to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

The First Circuit’s e-mail notification works only for cases in which you are a counsel of record. As far as I can tell, the court does not yet provide electronic notification of when opinions in general are issued. But the court (like all Louisiana appellate courts) publishes all its opinions on its web site. And the court also publishes its schedule of decision days, with publication date based on the month of oral argument. So once a case you’re interested in has been orally argued or submitted without oral argument, you can check the schedule to see when the opinion should be released and calendar the date. If you’re interested in generally monitoring all of the court’s decisions, just calendar all the scheduled opinion days and, when an appointed day arrives, check the opinions page.

How I monitor the Louisiana Supreme Court

When a court decides your case, you want to know immediately. Some courts (for example, the Louisiana First and Fourth Circuits) offer e-mail notice of decisions to counsel of record; those e-mails usually go out the same day that the decision is released. Other courts continue to rely on notice by U.S. Mail, meaning that the decision does not arrive until, at the earliest, the day after it is released.

Fortunately, each Louisiana appellate court’s web site offers some means of monitoring the issuance of decisions. This blog post is the first in a series on that topic. We will start at the top with the Louisiana Supreme Court.

If you go to the LSC’s home page and look in the right-hand column, you will see a link to the Court’s News Release Alert Service. If you click on the link and follow the directions, you will receive an e-mail whenever the Court issues a news release. A news release comes out whenever the Court announces the issuance of opinions and orders (i.e. writ grants, writ denials, decisions on rehearing). The e-mail will contain a link to the news release. Clicking on that link will take you to a page listing the Court’s latest opinions, orders, or other actions, usually on the same day that they are announced.

While the e-mail subscription service works well most of the time, I have found that, on rare occasions, the e-mail arrives a day or two late. So I take the added step of subscribing to the Court’s RSS service. The link for that is in the right-hand column of the LSC’s home page, directly below the link for the e-mail news alerts. Whenever the Court issues a news release, the release is sent to my RSS reader (I use Feedly), which I also use to follow blogs that I like. While the LSC’s e-mail service works well most of the time, I’ve found the RSS service to be as timely and more reliable. Also, unlike the e-mail service, the RSS service sends an announcement whenever an oral-argument docket is posted. Because it includes oral-argument dockets, the RSS service provides greater coverage than the e-mail service.

Feed-icon32x32So what is this RSS? A simple explanation can be found here, and a more detailed one here. For readers, RSS is a means to monitor new posts to web logs and other web sites (e.g. the Louisiana Supreme Court and the U.S. Fifth Circuit) without having to visit the individual sites. The posts and other announcements are aggregated in your RSS reader, allowing you to scan them on a single web page without having to visit each individual web site. As noted in my April 25 post, I have been using Feedly as my RSS reader, and so far I love it.