Going To Court And Dealing With Procedure

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

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About Going To Court And Dealing With Procedures

This information is about when you might have to go to court because of an issue, violation, or dispute. It explains what to expect in different types of cases and gives you some basic rules to follow in court. 

Issues Related To Going To Court And Dealing With Procedure

Like other states, Louisiana has its own set of rules and regulations regarding court costs and fees. These can vary depending on the type of case and the specific court involved. Generally, court costs cover expenses such as filing fees, service of process fees, and other administrative costs associated with handling a case. 

It's best to consult the court clerk where your case is being heard for specific information on court costs and fees. You can also visit this resource to help you find the court fee schedule for each judicial court for your parish. 

Here are some key concepts related to a court's jurisdiction and its ability to handle cases:

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

  • Courts have authority over certain types of cases based on the subject matter. For example, a family court may have jurisdiction over divorce cases, while a criminal court has jurisdiction over criminal matters.
  • If a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it generally cannot hear the case. A court may refuse to hear a case if it determines it does not have the authority to do so.

Personal Jurisdiction

  • Courts also need jurisdiction over the parties involved in a case. Personal jurisdiction refers to the court's authority over the individuals or entities named in the lawsuit.
  • If a court lacks personal jurisdiction over a party, it may refuse to hear the case against that party. Jurisdictional issues can arise when a party is not present in the state or does not have sufficient contacts with the jurisdiction.

Venue

  • Venue rules determine the most appropriate location for a trial. Generally, it is the geographical area where the incident occurred or where the parties reside.
  • Courts may transfer a case to a different venue if it is more convenient or appropriate for all parties involved.

Procedural Issues

  • Courts may refuse to hear a case if there are procedural defects. This could include issues such as improper service of process, failure to meet filing deadlines, or non-compliance with court rules.

Discretionary Powers

  • Courts often have discretionary powers to manage their dockets efficiently. This includes the authority to grant or deny motions to dismiss, transfer cases, or consolidate related cases.
  • Courts may also have the discretion to decline jurisdiction in certain circumstances, such as when another court is better suited to hear the case.

Abstention Doctrines

  • In some cases, a court may abstain from hearing a case, deferring to another forum. This can happen for reasons such as ongoing proceedings in another jurisdiction, to avoid interference with a parallel federal case, or in cases involving complex state law issues.

Removal and Remand

  • In certain situations, a case may be removed from state court to federal court, or vice versa. The decision to remove or remand a case is subject to specific legal criteria.

The divorce process in Louisiana involves several steps and considerations.

Here is a general overview of the divorce process in Louisiana, along with some key types of divorces recognized in the state: 

Residency Requirements: 

  • To file for divorce in Louisiana, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 180 days before filing. Additionally, the divorce can be filed in the parish where either spouse resides. 

Grounds for Divorce:

  • Louisiana recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.
    • No-fault grounds: Living separate and apart for the required time without reconciliation.
    • Fault grounds: Adultery, felony conviction, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, or living separate and apart for a specified period due to a protective order.

Filing a Petition:

  • One spouse (the petitioner) files a petition for divorce with the appropriate Louisiana court. The petition outlines the grounds for divorce and may include requests for issues like child custody, spousal support, and division of property.

Service of Process:

  • The non-filing spouse (respondent) must be served with the divorce papers, notifying them of the legal proceedings. They have a specific period to respond.

Temporary Orders:

Negotiation or Mediation:

Trial:

  • If the spouses cannot reach an agreement, the case goes to trial. The court will hear evidence and make decisions on unresolved issues.

Final Decree of Divorce:

  • Once the court has considered all relevant factors, it issues a final decree of divorce. This document officially ends the marriage and includes the court's rulings on matters like property division, spousal support, and child custody.

Due process rights are fundamental constitutional protections that ensure fairness and justice in legal proceedings. In Louisiana, as in the rest of the United States, individuals are entitled to due process when dealing with the government. The Louisiana Constitution and the U.S. Constitution provide the framework for these rights. Here's an overview:

1. Constitutional Basis:

  • U.S. Constitution: The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution provide that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

  • Louisiana Constitution: The Louisiana Constitution also contains provisions ensuring due process rights. For example, Article I, Section 2 guarantees due process and equal protection under the law.

2. Notice and Opportunity to Be Heard:

  • Individuals have the right to be informed of any government action that may adversely affect their life, liberty, or property.

  • They also have the right to a meaningful opportunity to present their case, challenge evidence, and be heard before an impartial decision-maker.

3. Timely and Impartial Proceedings:

  • Due process requires that legal proceedings be conducted in a timely manner, and decisions should be made by an impartial and unbiased tribunal.

4. Right to Legal Representation:

  • Individuals have the right to be represented by an attorney in legal proceedings that may result in the deprivation of life, liberty, or property.

  • If a person cannot afford an attorney, they may have the right to appointed counsel in certain criminal and civil cases.

5. Right to Confront Witnesses:

  • In criminal cases, the accused has the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses presented against them.

6. Protection Against Self-Incrimination:

  • Individuals have the right to remain silent and cannot be compelled to incriminate themselves. This right is protected under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

7. Right to Appeal:

  • Individuals generally have the right to appeal a decision that adversely affects their rights. The appellate process provides an additional layer of review to ensure that due process was followed.

8. Property Rights Protection:

  • Due process protects individuals from arbitrary government action that could result in the deprivation of property. This includes notice and an opportunity to be heard before property interests are taken away.

9. Equal Protection:

  • Due process rights include the right to equal protection under the law. Individuals cannot be treated unfairly or discriminatorily by the government.

10. Post-Deprivation Remedies:

  • If a deprivation of life, liberty, or property occurs without due process, individuals may have the right to seek remedies after the fact, such as through a civil lawsuit for damages.

It's important to note that the specific procedures and protections can vary depending on the nature of the government action (e.g., criminal, civil, administrative) and the context of the case. Individuals facing government actions that may affect their rights should seek legal advice to understand and protect their due process rights in the specific circumstances.

In Louisiana, like in other U.S. jurisdictions, the rules of evidence govern the admissibility of information and materials presented in a court case. The Louisiana Code of Evidence outlines the rules and procedures for the admission and exclusion of evidence.

Learn more about evidence for a court case by visiting this resource here

Filing and serving pleadings, forms, and court paperwork involves a series of steps that are essential to the legal process. Here is a general overview: 

Filing Pleadings, Forms, and Court Paperwork:

  1. Selecting the Correct Court:

    • Determine the appropriate court for your case. Louisiana has different courts for various matters, such as district courts for civil cases and criminal cases, family courts, and others.
  2. Prepare Documents:

    • Ensure all documents are properly filled out, signed, and notarized if required.
    • Attach any necessary exhibits or supporting documentation.
  3. Make Copies:

    • Make multiple copies of the documents for your records and to provide to other parties involved in the case.
  4. Filing Fees:

    • Check with the specific court to determine the filing fees. Fees can vary depending on the type of case and the court.
  5. Submit to the Clerk:

    • Take the original and copies of your documents to the clerk of the appropriate court.
    • The clerk will file the documents, stamp them with the filing date, and keep the original for the court's records.
  6. Receive Stamped Copies:

    • After filing, the clerk will provide stamped copies of your documents. Keep these copies as proof of filing.

Serving Pleadings and Court Paperwork:

  1. Identify Parties to be Served:

    • Determine who needs to be served with the court documents. This typically includes opposing parties, and sometimes third parties.
  2. Service Methods:

    • Louisiana law allows for various methods of service, including personal service, certified mail with return receipt requested, or through a licensed process server.
  3. Affidavit of Service:

    • The person who serves the documents completes an Affidavit of Service, detailing when, where, and how the documents were served.
  4. File Proof of Service:

    • File the Affidavit of Service with the court to demonstrate that the other party has been properly served.
  5. Timely Service:

    • Ensure that all parties are served within the required timeframe specified by Louisiana law and court rules.

Additional Considerations:

  • Local Rules:

    • Familiarize yourself with the local rules of the specific court where you are filing. Different courts may have specific requirements and procedures.
  • Electronic Filing:

    • Some courts may have implemented electronic filing systems. Check whether electronic filing is available and, if so, follow the prescribed procedures.

Getting a restraining or protective order involves several key steps: 

  1. Eligibility:

    • Determine if you meet the eligibility criteria for obtaining a restraining or protective order. Typically, this involves demonstrating that you have been a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or other forms of harassment.
  2. Choose the Appropriate Order:

    • Decide whether you need a temporary restraining order or a longer-term protective order, depending on the nature and severity of the threat.
  3. Complete the Necessary Forms:

    • Obtain the necessary forms from the court or online resources. Fill out the forms accurately, providing detailed information about the incidents that led you to seek the order.
  4. Visit the Clerk's Office:

    • Take the completed forms to the clerk's office of the appropriate court. The clerk will provide you with information on the filing process, any associated fees, and the hearing date.
  5. File the Forms:

    • Submit the completed forms to the clerk. In some cases, a judge may review your request immediately, especially for temporary restraining orders in emergency situations.
  6. Temporary Restraining Order (if needed):

    • If you're facing an urgent situation, the court may issue a temporary restraining order first. This provides immediate protection until a hearing can be scheduled for a more permanent protective order.
  7. Service of Documents:

    • Ensure that the alleged abuser is properly served with a copy of the order and notice of the hearing. This is typically done by law enforcement or a process server.
  8. Court Hearing:

    • Attend the scheduled court hearing to present evidence supporting your request for a protective order. Be prepared to explain the details of the abuse or harassment and why you believe the order is necessary for your safety.
  9. Judicial Decision:

    • The judge will review the evidence presented and decide whether to grant the protective order. If granted, the order will specify the terms and conditions, such as maintaining a certain distance or refraining from contact.
  10. Order Issuance:

    • If the judge approves the order, it will be issued and provided to you. Make sure to keep a copy with you at all times.
  11. Law Enforcement Notification:

    • Provide a copy of the order to local law enforcement agencies, so they are aware of the terms and can take appropriate action if necessary.

Going to child support court in Louisiana involves a series of steps to establish, modify, or enforce child support arrangements. Here is a summarized overview: 

  1. Initiating the Process:

  2. Petition Filing:

    • Complete the necessary forms, which may include information about both parents' finances and circumstances. File the petition with the clerk of the court in the parish where the child resides.
  3. Service of Process:

    • Ensure that the other parent is properly served with notice of the child support proceedings. This is typically done through certified mail or a process server.
  4. Response:

    • The non-custodial parent has the opportunity to respond to the petition, either admitting or contesting the need for child support.
  5. Mediation (Optional):

    • In some cases, the court may recommend or require mediation to help parents reach an agreement on child support terms.
  6. Court Hearing:

    • Attend the scheduled court hearing. Both parents present evidence related to income, expenses, and any other relevant factors affecting child support.
  7. Child Support Order Issuance:

    • If an agreement is reached or the court decides on child support terms, a child support order is issued. This order outlines the amount to be paid, the payment schedule, and any other relevant conditions.
  8. Income Withholding Order:

    • The court may issue an income withholding order, directing the non-custodial parent's employer to deduct child support payments directly from their wages.
  9. Enforcement Actions:

    • If the non-custodial parent fails to comply with the child support order, enforcement actions may be taken, such as wage garnishment, driver's license suspension, or other legal measures.
  10. Modification Requests:

  11. Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Involvement:

  12. Legal Representation:

    • It is advisable for both parents to seek legal representation, especially if there are complexities or disputes during the child support proceedings.

Probate court in Louisiana handles the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, ensuring the distribution of assets according to the deceased's will or state laws. Here's an overview of the probate process in Louisiana:

  1. Initiating Probate:

  2. Authenticating the Will:

    • If there is a valid will, it must be presented to the court. The court will verify the authenticity of the will and determine its validity. If no will exists, the estate is considered intestate, and state laws will govern the distribution of assets.
  3. Appointment of Executor/Administrator:

  4. Inventory and Appraisal:

  5. Notice to Creditors:

    • Creditors must be notified of the probate proceedings, giving them an opportunity to submit claims against the estate. The estate's debts are paid from the deceased person's assets.
  6. Estate Administration:

  7. Court Supervision:

    • The probate court oversees the entire process to ensure that the executor or administrator fulfills their duties in accordance with the law and the deceased person's wishes.
  8. Final Accounting:

    • Once debts are settled and assets are distributed, the executor or administrator submits a final accounting to the court, detailing all financial transactions related to the estate.
  9. Distribution of Assets:

  10. Closing the Estate:

    • With the court's approval of the final accounting and distribution of assets, the estate is officially closed, and the probate process concludes.
  11. Challenges to the Will:

    • During probate, interested parties may contest the validity of the will or other aspects of the estate administration, leading to additional court proceedings.

Going to traffic court in Louisiana involves addressing traffic violations and resolving related issues. Here's a summarized overview of the process:

  1. Receiving a Traffic Ticket:

    • If you receive a traffic ticket in a place in Louisiana, it will typically include information about the alleged violation, the fine amount, and instructions on how to handle the ticket.
  2. Options for Resolving the Ticket:

    • You usually have several options for resolving a traffic ticket, including paying the fine, attending traffic school, or contesting the ticket in court.
  3. Paying the Fine:

    • If you choose to admit the violation and pay the fine, you can do so online, by mail, or in person at the designated payment locations.
  4. Attending Traffic School:

    • In some cases, you may have the option to attend traffic school to dismiss the ticket or reduce the impact on your driving record. This option is often available for minor violations.
  5. Contesting the Ticket:

    • If you believe the ticket was issued in error or you have a valid defense, you can contest the violation by appearing in traffic court.
  6. Requesting a Hearing:

    • If you choose to contest the ticket, you can request a hearing. The court will then schedule a date for your appearance.
  7. Preparing for Court:

    • Gather any relevant evidence, such as photographs or witness statements, to support your case. Familiarize yourself with the traffic laws related to the alleged violation.
  8. Traffic Court Appearance:

    • On the scheduled court date, appear at the designated traffic court in the city where you got your ticket. Be punctual and dress appropriately.
  9. Presenting Your Case:

    • When your case is called, present your evidence and state your case before the judge. Be respectful and follow court procedures.
  10. Judge's Decision:

    • The judge will consider your case and make a decision. If found guilty, you may be required to pay fines or face other penalties. If found not guilty, the charges may be dismissed.
  11. Payment of Fines or Penalties:

    • If you are required to pay fines, follow the instructions provided by the court to settle the financial obligations within the specified timeframe.

Going to court for eviction and landlord-tenant issues in Louisiana involves a legal process with specific steps. Here's a summarized overview:

Eviction Process:

  1. Notice to Vacate:

    • Typically, the eviction process begins with the landlord providing the tenant with a written notice to vacate, specifying the reason for eviction and a deadline to move out.
  2. Notice Period:

  3. Filing an Eviction Lawsuit:

  4. Court Summons:

    • The tenant receives a court summons, indicating the date and time of the eviction hearing. The summons must be served properly, usually by a sheriff or constable.
  5. Eviction Hearing:

  6. Judgment of Possession:

    • If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a judgment of possession is issued, allowing the landlord to regain possession of the property.
  7. Writ of Execution:

    • The landlord may obtain a writ of execution from the court, allowing law enforcement to physically remove the tenant if they do not leave voluntarily.

Landlord-Tenant Issues:

Here's an overview of judgments, settlements, and appeals of court cases: 

  1. What is a judgment?

    • A judgment is an official decision or ruling by a court at the end of a legal proceeding.
  2. Types of Judgments:

    • Default Judgment: When one party fails to respond or appear, the court may issue a judgment in favor of the other party.
    • Summary Judgment: A judgment made by the court without a full trial, based on the evidence and legal arguments presented.
    • Final Judgment: The conclusive decision at the end of a trial or legal process.
  3. Enforcement of Judgments:

    • Once a judgment is issued, the prevailing party may take legal steps to enforce it, such as seizing assets or garnishing wages.
  4. Settlement Agreements: 

    • A settlement is an agreement between parties to resolve a legal dispute before or during a trial, often involving mutual concessions. Parties, usually with the assistance of their attorneys, negotiate the terms of the settlement to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. A written agreement is drafted, outlining the terms and conditions of the settlement, including any financial compensation, actions to be taken, or other agreed-upon terms.
  5. Legal Effect:

    • Once both parties sign the settlement agreement, it becomes a legally binding contract, and the case is typically dismissed.
  6. What is an appeal?

    • An appeal is a formal request for a higher court to review and potentially change the decision of a lower court.
  7. Grounds for Appeal:

    • Appeals are not a retrial; they focus on legal errors, procedural mistakes, or issues of law rather than reevaluating the facts of the case.
  8. Appellate Process:

    • The party seeking the appeal, known as the appellant, must file a notice of appeal within a specified timeframe. The appellee, or the other party, responds to the appeal.
  9. Appellate Court Review:

    • The appellate court reviews the trial court record, legal arguments, and briefs submitted by both parties. It may also hear oral arguments.
  10. Appellate Decision:

    • The appellate court can affirm, reverse, remand (send back for further proceedings), or modify the lower court's decision.
  11. Enforcement or Retrial:

    • If the appellate court affirms the lower court's decision, the judgment is enforced. If it reverses the decision, the case may be sent back for a new trial or other proceedings.

Juries in Louisiana play a crucial role in the legal system, and there are specific rules and procedures governing their selection and function. Here's a summary of key aspects related to juries as a legal issue in Louisiana:

  1. Jury Selection:

    • The process of selecting a jury in Louisiana involves a random selection from a pool of eligible citizens. Potential jurors are typically summoned based on voter registration and driver's license records.
  2. Eligibility:

    • In Louisiana, potential jurors must meet certain eligibility criteria, including age, citizenship, residency, and the ability to understand English.
  3. Voir Dire:

    • During jury selection, attorneys engage in a process called voir dire, where they question potential jurors to assess their impartiality and suitability for the case.
  4. Number of Jurors:

    • Louisiana typically employs a 12-member jury for criminal cases and a 6-member jury for civil cases. However, parties may agree to a different number in civil cases.
  5. Unanimous Verdict:

    • Louisiana requires a unanimous verdict for felony criminal cases. Civil cases and misdemeanor criminal cases may have a less-than-unanimous verdict, depending on the circumstances.
  6. Use of Juries:

    • Juries are commonly used in both criminal and civil trials in Louisiana. They decide the facts of a case, while the judge determines the applicable law.
  7. Grand Juries:

    • Grand juries are used in Louisiana to determine if there is enough evidence to indict someone for a serious crime. Unlike trial juries, grand juries are not involved in determining guilt or innocence.
  8. Exemptions and Disqualifications:

    • Individuals can be exempt or disqualified from jury service based on factors such as age, criminal convictions, and certain occupations.
  9. Jury Nullification:

    • Louisiana, like many jurisdictions, generally does not officially recognize the concept of jury nullification, where a jury may acquit a defendant despite evidence of guilt based on moral or ethical grounds.
  10. Compensation:

  11. Protection of Jurors:

The Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure outlines the rules and procedures for civil cases in the state. It addresses issues such as jurisdiction, venue, and the process for moving or dismissing a case.

Suing someone or being sued in Louisiana involves a legal process with specific rules and procedures. Here's a summary of key information:

  1. Cause of Action:

    • Identify a valid legal reason, known as a cause of action, for filing a lawsuit. This could be based on breach of contract, personal injury, property damage, etc.
  2. Legal Representation:

    • Consider hiring an attorney to navigate the legal complexities, assess the strength of your case, and guide you through the process.
  3. Filing a Complaint:

    • Prepare and file a formal legal document called a complaint with the appropriate court. This document outlines the facts of the case, the legal claims, and the relief sought.
  4. Service of Process:

    • After filing, ensure that the defendant (the person being sued) is properly served with a copy of the complaint and a summons, notifying them of the lawsuit.
  5. Defendant's Response:

    • The defendant has a certain period to respond to the complaint by filing an answer, admitting or denying the allegations, and presenting any legal defenses.
  6. Discovery Process:

    • Both parties engage in the discovery process, where they exchange information, documents, and evidence relevant to the case.
  7. Settlement or Trial:

    • Parties may attempt to settle the case through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution. If no settlement is reached, the case proceeds to trial.
  8. Trial and Judgment:

    • The case is presented in court, and a judge or jury renders a judgment. If the plaintiff prevails, a remedy or damages may be awarded.

Being Sued (Defendant Perspective):

  1. Receiving the Summons and Complaint:

    • If served with a summons and complaint, carefully review the documents to understand the allegations and legal claims.
  2. Legal Representation:

    • Consider consulting with an attorney to assess the validity of the claims, formulate a defense strategy, and guide you through the legal process.
  3. Answering the Complaint:

    • File a timely response, known as an answer, either admitting or denying the allegations and presenting any affirmative defenses.
  4. Counterclaims:

    • In some cases, defendants may file counterclaims against the plaintiff, alleging that the plaintiff has legal liability.
  5. Discovery Process:

    • Engage in the discovery process, where both parties exchange information, documents, and evidence relevant to the case.
  6. Settlement or Trial:

    • Consider settlement negotiations or alternative dispute resolution. If no resolution is reached, prepare for trial.
  7. Trial and Judgment:

    • Defend the case in court, and a judge or jury renders a judgment. If the defendant prevails, the case is dismissed. If not, the defendant may be required to pay damages or provide other remedies.

In Louisiana, the creation and accessibility of transcripts and recordings of legal proceedings are subject to specific rules and procedures. Here's a summary of key information:

Court Transcripts:

  1. Official Court Reporter:

    • In many Louisiana court proceedings, an official court reporter is present to create a verbatim transcript of the proceedings.
  2. Requesting Transcripts:

    • Parties involved in a case or members of the public can request transcripts from the court reporter. Requests are typically made in writing and may involve payment of fees.
  3. Timeliness:

    • It may take some time for transcripts to be prepared, as court reporters have specific time frames within which they must complete and deliver transcripts.
  4. Availability for Appeals:

    • Transcripts are often crucial for the appellate process. Parties appealing a decision may need to include relevant transcripts as part of their appeal.
  5. Costs:

    • Requesters may be responsible for the costs associated with obtaining transcripts, and fees can vary.

Audio and Video Recordings:

  1. Recording Policies:

    • The use of audio or video recording devices in courtrooms is generally subject to strict regulations. Unauthorized recording may be prohibited.
  2. Official Court Recordings:

    • In addition to court reporters, some courtrooms may have official audio or video recording systems to create an official record of proceedings.
  3. Access to Recordings:

    • Access to audio or video recordings may be restricted, and parties seeking copies may need to make formal requests to the court.
  4. Confidentiality and Privacy:

    • Certain proceedings, especially those involving sensitive information or juveniles, may have restrictions on the use and dissemination of recordings to protect confidentiality and privacy.
  5. Use in Appeals:

    • Like transcripts, audio or video recordings may be used as part of the appellate process.
  6. Retention Period:

    • Courts typically have policies regarding the retention period for audio and video recordings. After a certain period, recordings may be archived or destroyed

Public Access:

  1. Open Court Principle:

    • Courts in Louisiana generally adhere to the open court principle, allowing public access to court proceedings. However, there may be limitations for certain types of cases or proceedings.
  2. Public Records Requests:

    • Members of the public, including media outlets, may be able to request transcripts or recordings through public records requests, but access may be subject to restrictions.
Last Review and Update: Nov 09, 2023
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