What Should I Do if I Missed My Court Date for an Eviction?
Attacking a Judgment of Eviction
There are two potential methods for attacking a judgment of eviction: file an appeal or file a petition for nullity of judgment.
Appealing an Eviction Judgment
There are two kinds of appeal in Louisiana: devolutive and suspensive appeal. In a devolutive appeal, the judgment appealed from remains in effect. In a suspensive appeal, the judgment appealed is suspended until the appeals court can review it. If you have been evicted and would like to stay in the rented premises until the appeal is complete, you would need to file a suspensive appeal.
The court will set a suspensive appeal bond. The suspensive appeal bond must be paid for the suspensive appeal to "attach," or go into effect. If you cannot afford the suspensive appeal bond, you can ask the court to reduce the amount.
Justice of the Peace Court
Appeal from justice of the peace court is to the parish court. If there is no parish court, appeal to the district court of the parish where the justice of the peace is situated. Appeals from justice of the peace court are tried de novo in parish or district court. No further appeal is allowed. De novo means "like new," and the tenant can raise new defenses and present new evidence at the trial de novo. You must file your appeal within 24 hours from the judgment of eviction.
Parish and City Court
A written motion or petition for suspensive appeal must be made to the trial court and filed within 24 hours after the rendition of a judgment of eviction. "Rendition of judgment" means a signed written judgment. The appeal may be premature if it is filed before the written judgment. An appeal bond must also be filed within 24 hours of judgment, in an amount set by the trial court.
Petition for Nullity of Eviction Judgment
So you missed your court date and the court entered a judgment of eviction by default. You may be able to file a petition for nullity of judgment under some circumstances.
Nullity based on procedural errors
Procedural errors can justify nullification, such as:
The notice to vacate was improper.
The rule for eviction filed sooner than 5 working days after notice to vacate.
Service of rule for eviction upon you was improper or unsuccessful.
Nullity based on landlord's material misrepresentation
A default judgment obtained through the landlord's material misrepresentation can be nullified. Material misrepresentation could be:
telling the tenant not to come to court on the hearing date;
telling the court that the lease was month-to-month when it was actually a written lease; or
asking the court for eviction when the landlord accepted rent after the notice to vacate.