Suspension of Certain Legal Deadlines
On March 16, 2020, Governor Edwards signed Proclamation Number JBE 2020-30, which contains additional measures related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Section 5 of the Proclamation relates directly to the legal community and provides, in part, as follows:
When prescription is suspended, the period of suspension is not counted toward the accrual of prescription. When the period of suspension terminates, prescription begins to run again. It is important to note that the Proclamation states that these suspensions will remain in place until at least April 13, 2020. Gordon Arata’s team will be diligently watching for updates on when suspensions might be lifted. We recommend that you contact your Gordon Arata attorney if you have any questions about how suspensions may affect you or your company.
Trials and Hearings Postponed
The Louisiana Supreme Court has ordered that all Louisiana state-court jury trials originally scheduled to begin between March 16, 2020 and March 27, 2020, are continued to a date to be reset by local order but no earlier than March 30, 2020. However, civil and criminal jury trials that were in progress before March 16, 2020 may continue to conclusion, at the discretion of the local court.
Further, all non-jury civil trials, hearings, and court appearances, except for certain family, estate, and public health matters, set for any date between March 16, 2020 and March 27, 2020, are continued to a date to be reset by local order. The Supreme Court also expressly stated that the order does not prohibit any court proceedings by telephone, video, teleconferencing, or any other means that do not involved in-person contact and do not affect a court’s consideration of matters that can be resolved without in-person proceedings.
In both jury and non-jury trials, the Louisiana Supreme Court has given a great deal of discretion to local courts for resetting these matters. Gordon Arata’s team will be diligently watching for updates from local courts on when matters are being reset.
Similarly, federal courts in Louisiana have altered trial schedules in light of the Governor’s state of emergency declaration and guidance from the CDC. The Texas Supreme Court has issued a similar Emergency Order giving Texas state courts broad discretion to postpone and/or conduct proceedings by teleconferencing or videoconferencing, as well as to extend statutes of limitations in civil cases. Federal courts in Texas have issued and are updating their own COVID-19 orders that affect proceedings in their courts. We recommend that you contact your Gordon Arata attorney if you have any questions about how the continuance of either state or federal matters may affect you or your company.