Louisiana State Court System

  • Justice of the Peace Court: These courts have been abolished where city courts exist; however, there still remain hundreds of these courts in Louisiana. These courts have original jurisdiction in civil actions up to $2,000.
  • City and Parish Courts:These courts have original jurisdictions in civil cases ranging from $5,000 up to $20,000.
  • District Court: The District Court is a court of general jurisdiction. It has appellate jurisdiction over city, municipal, and some justice of the peace courts. District courts have original jurisdiction over civil matters with up to $25,000 in controversy.
  • Court of Appeal:The Court of Appeals is Louisiana’s intermediate appellate court. It hears cases appealed in all civil matters, except those appealable directly to the Supreme Court..
  • Louisiana Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is Louisiana’s court of last resort and has supervisory jurisdiction over all lower courts.

*Some courts in the Louisiana State Court System also have jurisdiction over certain other proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 15 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery: is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions: In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Before the lawsuit goes to trial, the parties may elect to schedule a mediation or arbitration as an alternative way to resolve the matter. In most civil matters, both parties are encouraged to discuss mediation, and the court may refer a case to mediation. Mediation involves a neutral third party who hears both sides, and will attempt to facilitate a settlement that is mutually satisfactory to both parties.

Trial

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

Every final judgment from a circuit court is appealable by filing a notice of appeal. After a final judgment is entered, the party wishing to appeal must file a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court within 20 days after the entry of the final judgment.

Recovery

A judgment rendered in Louisiana is valid for 10 years.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Louisiana. Should you have a question/concern specific to Louisiana law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Louisiana.