There’s so much information to process right now. We’ve compiled a list of orders and guidelines that have been listed for Louisiana and the U.S. to help you keep track of what’s going on.
First let’s start with what everyone in our state needs to know:
Federal and State Guidelines
Louisiana Governor’s Orders:
- All State and Federal Court proceedings are between now and 03/27/20 are continued, except protective orders and child in need of care proceedings, custody matters, etc.
- Criminal arraignments for people in jail will continue as scheduled.
- Court can still be conducted by telephone and video.
- All gatherings of 50 people or more shall be postponed or cancelled (excludes airports, medical facilities, shopping centers or malls, office buildings, factories or manufacturing facilities, or grocery or department stores).
- All casinos, video poker establishments, movie theaters, bars, bowling alleys, and fitness centers and gyms, statewide, must close completely.
- Truck stops must cease all gaming operations.
- Race tracks may remain open but no members of the public are allowed and no gaming.
- Restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops are drive thru/pick up/delivery only.
- Hotel restaurants may serve registered hotel guests via room service.
- All state agencies local political subdivisions of the state shall provide for attendance at essential governmental meetings via teleconference or video conference.
- All legal deadlines are suspended until at least April 13, 2020.
- A state of emergency is declared allowing law enforcement to make create a local curfew from l0:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. or make orders to protect life and property and to bring the emergency situation under control.
- Driver’s licenses that expire between March 9, 2020 and May 10, 2020 are extended to May 20, 2020.
- The expiration of a temporary driver’s license issued pursuant La R.S. 32:667(A) which were issued on or after March 9, 2020 through May 10, 2020 is suspended until June 9, 2020.
- All students who enroll in a driver’s education course after March 9, 2020 shall be allowed to begin the driver’s education course without the issuance of the temporary instructional permit until May 10, 2020.
Orders and Advisories from the White House:
- Issued March 11, 2020 – Travel ban outside the U.S. for 30 days. Domestic travel restrictions are being considered.
- For the next 15 days, the White House offers these guidelines for Americans:
- Work from home whenever possible
- School your kids from home, if possible
- Avoid any gatherings of 10 or more people
- Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts; use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options instead
- If you are sick, stay home, and if your kids are sick keep them home
- If someone in your household is diagnosed with this virus, the entire family should quarantine inside your home
- Avoid all discretionary travel, including optional shopping trips and social visits
- Do not visit nursing homes or critical care facilities, unless it’s to provide critical care
- Older people and anyone with a health condition that weakens their immune system or impairs lung or heart function should stay home and away from other people
- Practice good hygiene: wash your hands and avoid touching your face, disinfect frequently used items and sneeze or cough into a tissue, when necessary
Louisiana and Federal Court Updates
In addition to the general guidelines issued by the state and the federal government, there have also been orders handed down from the Courts.
Bankruptcy Court Orders (Western District):
- The Court will conduct all non-evidentiary hearings via telephone. Telephone hearings will be recorded using the Court’s digital recording system or other external recording technology associated with the telephone dial-in number. If the Court’s digital recording system is inaccessible, the recordings using the recording technology associated with the telephone dial-in number will be made available to the public in accordance with the Clerk’s standing policy and will constitute the official Court record. Each person speaking at a telephonic hearing must restate that person’s name each time that person speaks. The information will assist the Court during the hearing and will assist any transcribers of the audio recording.
- In the event an evidentiary hearing is required, the Court must be provided notice at the earliest opportunity. The Judge will then issue guidance on how the hearing will be conducted, including directions for the exchange and filing of witness and exhibit lists and the exhibits themselves into the record.
- All trials in adversary proceedings scheduled to begin on any date from the date of entry of this order until May 1, 2020, are continued, to a date to be reset by each presiding judge. All other hearings, conferences and/or proceedings are subject to the discretion of the presiding judge.
Federal Court Orders (Middle District):
- All civil and criminal trials (bench and jury) be and are hereby postponed to a date, to be determined by the presiding Judge, on or after May 1, 2020. This postponement does not affect any other pending deadlines other than the pre-trial conference and trial dates. Parties seeking to modify other deadlines must do so by written motion.
- All civil evidentiary hearings and other in-court hearings and proceedings requiring personal appearances, on the dockets of the United States District Court and the United States Bankruptcy Court, set between the date of this Order and April 10, 2020 are hereby postponed, to be reset by, and at the discretion of, the presiding Judge.
- All grand jury proceedings in the Middle District of Louisiana are postponed until further order of this Court.
- With regard to criminal matters, due to the Court’s reduced ability to obtain an adequate spectrum of jurors and the effect of the recommendations from the above public health organizations on the availability of counsel and Court staff to be present in the courtroom, the time period of the postponements implemented by this Order will be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act, as the Court specifically finds that the ends of justice served by ordering the postponements outweigh the best interest of the public and any defendant’s right to a speedy trial, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A).
- Until further order of this Court, initial appearances in criminal matters before Magistrate Judges pursuant to Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure shall be conducted by video conference or as otherwise ordered by the Court or the presiding Magistrate Judge.
- Criminal matters before Magistrate Judges, such as arraignments, detention hearings (and appeals to district judges from detention orders), and the issuance of search warrants, shall continue to take place in the ordinary course, or by video conference at the discretion of the assigned judge, until further order of this Court.
- Re-arraignments and sentencing hearings, on the docket of the United States District Court, set between the date of this Order and April 10, 2020 are hereby postponed, to be reset by, and at the discretion of, the presiding Judge.
- Case-by-case exceptions to the postponements ordered herein may be ordered for non-jury matters at the discretion of the presiding Judge.
- This Order does not affect the Court’s consideration of civil, criminal, or bankruptcy motions that can be resolved without oral argument or handled by telephone or video conference. Parties are encouraged to seek resetting of any dates affected by this Order by video conference or other practical means for submission and consideration.
- Prescriptive, peremptive and statute of limitation deadlines are hereby interrupted until April 13, 2020.
- Inquiries concerning filing or other deadlines, not specifically addressed herein, should be directed to the assigned Judge by written motion.
- No in-person filings will be accepted through April 13, 2020 or until further order of this Court. Filings in sealed matters which are required to be filed conventionally (in-person) pursuant to administrative procedures shall be filed by facsimile to (225) 389-3501. Electronic filing via the CM/ECF system will be fully functional and help desk support will be available. Online resources are available at http://www.lamd.uscourts.gov/, via email at email@example.com or via telephone at (225) 389-3552.
- If you are scheduled to meet with a probation or pretrial services officer, please contact the Probation and Pretrial Services Office at (225) 389-3600. Nothing in this Order affects or modifies in any way the terms and conditions of release for any persons subject to pretrial or post-conviction supervision.
- If you are a juror, please contact the Jury Administrator at (225) 389-3650.
- This Order will remain in effect until further order of this Court.
Federal Court Orders (Western District):
- All United States Court Houses in Alexandria, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport will remain open for business, subject to certain limitations outlined in this order.
- All civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to begin on any date from now through May 1, 2020, are continued, to a date to be reset by each presiding judge. All other hearings, conferences and/or proceedings are subject to the discretion of the individual judge presiding over the proceeding.
- Due to the Court’s reduced ability to obtain an adequate spectrum of jurors and due to the reduced availability of attorneys and Court staff to be present in courtrooms because of the public health considerations described above, the time period of the continuances implemented by this Order are excluded under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A). The Court finds that the ends of justice served by ordering these continuances outweigh the best interests of the public and each defendant’s right to a speedy trial. In fact, the best interests of the public are served by these continuances.
- Due to the large criminal caseload in the Western District of Louisiana, the US Attorney’s Office has expressed the need to continue conducting grand jury proceedings in ordinary course. Therefore, grand jury matters will proceed pending further order of the Court.
- Individual judges may continue to hold in-person hearings, sentencing proceedings and conferences, but counsel may seek relief from those matters by appropriate motions. The parties are encouraged to seek to participate in non-sentencing hearings and conferences by telephone or video. This Order does not impact any court’s consideration of particular matters on the papers alone.
- Magistrate Judges will continue to preside over criminal matters, such as initial appearances, arraignments, detention hearings and the issuance of warrants. Wherever feasible, Magistrate Judges should consider the use of video conferencing for initial appearances and other hearings as appropriate.
- Any events involving the Court that are not case-specific, including, but not limited to, continuing legal education courses, public tours, administration of oaths to attorneys, and naturalization ceremonies conducted by the Court which are scheduled to occur between March 16 and May 1, 2020, are hereby cancelled and will be rescheduled as appropriate.
- All United States Probation and Pretrial Services offices will remain open for business.
- Many employees, including some of chambers staff, will be teleworking, but they will be accessible by phone. Electronic filings may continue to be made through the CM/ECF system.
- Unless extended, this Order will remain in effect through May 1, 2020, and will then expire.
Federal Court Orders (Eastern District):
- All civil and criminal bench and jury trials scheduled to begin on any date from the date of this order until May 1, 2020 are continued to a date to be reset by each presiding judge. Those continuances do not continue any pending deadlines other than the trial dates. Attorneys should contact the presiding judges in their continued cases if they seek to modify such other deadlines.
- All civil and criminal in-person hearings, proceedings, and conferences scheduled to begin on any date from the date of this order until May 1, 2020 are continued and will be reset by each presiding judge. The parties may seek relief from such continuances by written motion to the presiding judge in exceptional circumstances.
- For reasons given above and below, all grand jury proceedings in this District are suspended until May 1, 2020, subject to change upon motion from the government and further orders of the Court.
- With regard to criminal matters, due to the Court’s reduced ability to obtain an adequate spectrum of jurors and the effect of the recommendations from the above public health organizations on the ability of counsel and Court staff to be present in the courtroom, the time period of the postponements implemented by this administrative order will be excluded under the Speedy Trial Act, as the Court specifically finds that the ends of justice served by ordering the postponements outweigh the best interest of the public and any defendant’s right to a speedy trial, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.§ 3161(h)(7)(A).
- Criminal matters before magistrate judges, such as initial appearances, arraignments, detention hearings (and appeals to district judges from detention orders), and the issuance of search warrants, shall continue to take place in the ordinary course. However, counsel shall contact a Criminal Magistrate Judge Case Manager at (504) 589-7750 to determine if video conferencing is available.
- All events involving the Court or scheduled to be held in the courthouse that are not case-specific, including, but not limited to, continuing legal education courses, public tours, Inns of Court meetings, and naturalization ceremonies conducted by the Court, which are scheduled to occur between March 16, 2020 and May 1, 2020, are hereby cancelled and will be rescheduled when appropriate.
- Starting March 18, 2020, all attorney admissions will be handled by a motion and Order submitted by U.S. mail to the Clerk of Court, 500 Poydras Street, C-151, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130 or email to ECF-Registration@laed.uscourts.gov. Contact the Clerk of Court for specific information.
- The following persons shall not enter the Hale Boggs Federal Building and United States (500 Poydras Street) in New Orleans, Louisiana:
- a) Persons who have travelled to any of the following countries within the last 14 days: China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, or Iran. (This list may be updated as further guidance is received.
- b) Persons who reside or have had close contact with someone who has travelled to one of the countries listed above within the last 14 days.
- c) Persons who a doctor, hospital or health agency has asked to self-quarantine.
- d) Persons who have been diagnosed with, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- e) Persons with fever, cough or shortness of breath.
Louisiana Supreme Court Orders:
- All jury trials, both civil and criminal, scheduled to commence in any Louisiana state court between the date of this Order and March 27, 2020, are hereby continued to a date to be reset by local order no earlier than March 30, 2020. Civil and criminal jury trials that are in progress as of March 13, 2020 may continue to conclusion, in the discretion of the local court.
- Except as otherwise provided herein, all civil trials, hearings and court appearances set for any date between the date of this Order and March 27, 2020 are hereby continued to a date to be reset by local order, except for hearings related to the following: civil protective orders, child in need of care proceedings, emergency child custody matters, proceedings for children removed from their home by emergency court order, proceedings related to emergency interdictions and mental health orders, matters of public health related to this crisis and other emergency matters necessary to protect the health, safety and liberty of individuals as determined by each court.
- Criminal initial appearances for adults and juveniles, arraignments for incarcerated individuals and bond hearings shall continue as scheduled and shall be conducted with the use of telephone and video conferencing whenever possible.
- All judges and court clerks are urged to limit in-person courtroom contact as much as possible by utilizing available technologies, including alternative means of filing, teleconferencing, email and videoconferencing.
- This Order expressly does not prohibit any court proceedings by telephone, video, teleconferencing, or any other means that do not involve in-person contact. This Order does not affect courts’ consideration of matters that can be resolved without in-person proceedings.
- Given the public health concerns and the necessity of taking action to slow the spread of the disease, the continuances occasioned by this Order serve the ends of justice and outweigh the best interest of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial. Therefore, the time periods of such continuance shall be excluded from speedy trial computations pursuant to law, including but not limited to those set forth in the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure and the Louisiana Children’s Code, and presumptively constitute just cause.
Hopefully, this helps clarify some of the important changes to our legal system and what is expected of us in the weeks to come.