Louisiana Court Case Lookup
A Louisiana court case is a legal action resolved at any court in the state. The Louisiana court system consists of the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, District Courts, Family or Juvenile courts, City Courts, and Parish Courts.
The Supreme Court is the highest in Louisiana. It has exclusive original jurisdiction in cases that involve disciplinary actions against judges and lawyers. These cases are usually not heard by any other state court. The Supreme Court also has appellate jurisdiction in capital cases where a death penalty has been issued and a law has been declared unconstitutional. It also has supervisory jurisdiction over all lower courts. The Louisiana Court of Appeal handles most of the civil and criminal appeals in the state. District courts handle all matters within their territorial limits. They handle civil cases when the amount in dispute is between $2,000 and $25,000.
Juvenile courts handle various types of proceedings involving children. They do not have jurisdiction over cases where children of age 15 are charged with murder, aggravated rape, or aggravated kidnapping. Juvenile courts also handle adoption proceedings of children under 17 years. Family Courts handle divorce, spousal and child support, marriage annulment, paternity establishment, and custody and visitation of children.
Parish courts handle criminal offenses punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000, 6 months jail term, or both. They also handle civil cases when the amount in dispute is up to $20,000. Parish courts do not handle matters involving divorce claims, alimony, marriage annulment, property separation, and title to real estate.
City courts handle criminal offenses not punishable by hard labor and civil cases when the amount in dispute is between $15,000 and $50,000. They handle matters involving violations of municipal ordinances, except traffic violations.
Are Court Cases Public Record in Louisiana?
The Louisiana Public Records Law grants the general public the right to inspect or obtain copies of court cases from the appropriate record custodians. However, confidential court cases like adoption, juvenile, and guardianship are restricted to the case parties, their attorneys, and other authorized few.
How to Conduct Louisiana Court Case Lookup
A Louisiana court case lookup can be done online or in person at the clerk of court in the county where the case was filed. An in-person court case lookup can be conducted by visiting the courthouse where the case was handled. Requesters would need to provide basic information about the case to facilitate the search. A search and document fee is usually attached to retrieving copies of court case records, and the cost varies by court.
Most Louisiana courts have case search tools (which can be called other names depending on the court) that allow requesters to check case information by case party names or case numbers. Some courts require that requesters have accounts before using the online tools, while others do not. Some online tools can be used for free, while others come at a cost.
Can I Get Louisiana Court Case Documents Online?
Yes, the Lousiana court of Appeals has online tools where requesters can access court case documents. For example, requesters can use the Docket Search tool on the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal website to view the list of current court hearings and receive detailed docket information.
Additionally, the Louisiana District Courts allow requesters to access court case documents online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) tool. Access to court case documents using this tool costs $0.10 per page. However, there are instances where fees are waived. For instance, a requester with case record billings of $30 or less within a quarter or has been granted fee exemption by the court may access court case documents for free via the PACER tool.
How to Conduct a Louisiana Court Search by Name
A Louisiana resident can conduct a court search by name online or in person at the appropriate record custodian office. In-person requesters can visit the court where the case was handled to conduct court searches. They would have to provide the names of the case parties, attorneys, or judges who presided over the case. Inspecting case records in person may be free, but obtaining copies typically comes at a cost.
Louisiana court search by name can also be done online. For instance, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal has a Search tool where a user can conduct a court search by the litigant’s name. The user is expected to enter the litigant’s name in the search box and click the Search icon. A list of the case information of all litigants bearing such names will appear.
What is a Court Case Number?
A court case number is a series of unique characters assigned to a case filed in any Louisiana court. This number makes it easier for court staff to track and members of the public to retrieve case documents. A court case number reveals basic information about a case, like a case type and year.
How to Conduct a Case Number Search in Louisiana
Most Louisiana courts have online tools where people can conduct case number searches. For example, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal allows record seekers to use their Case Search tool to access case information. This is how to conduct a case number search via this tool:
- Go to the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal
- Click on “Case Search” at the top menu and click on Case Search from the dropdown
- Go to “Search By” and select “By Case Number” from the dropdown
- Select the case year and provide a case number
The search result will reveal basic case information like a case number, case title, the names of the ruling judge and attorney (s), district court number, name of the lower court, disposition, and court hearing info.
Alternatively, a case number search can be done in person at Louisiana courts. All that is required is to visit the court during office hours, provide the specific case number needed, and pay the required fees.
How to Remove Court Cases From Public Record in Louisiana
The major way to remove court cases from public records in Louisiana is to get a court order. The process of getting this court order varies per case. For instance, expungement is how criminal records are removed from public access in Louisiana. Only individuals who have their charges dismissed, found not guilty or convicted of a non-violent felony or misdemeanor can have their record expunged in Louisiana. Here is how to apply for expungement in Louisiana:
- Download and fill out the required expungement forms online or get copies at any court office.
- Complete any additional forms that may be required to complete the expungement application.
- File the petition of expungement with the court clerk
- Pay the required $550 expungement fees (additional fees may apply)
After the motion for expungement has been filed, the clerk of court will serve notice of the motion of expungement electronically or by mail to the following entities:
- The arresting agency
- The district attorney of the parish of conviction
- The Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information
An affidavit of response will be filed if any of the aforementioned agencies object to granting a motion to expunge a criminal record. This is usually done within sixty days from the motion's service date, and the grounds for the objection will be stated in the affidavit. A judgment of ordering expungement of a criminal record will be served if all the agencies grant the motion of expungement. The clerk of court will then serve the order and judgment of expungement of a criminal record to the aforementioned agencies and the sheriff of the parish of conviction electronically or by mail.
Review the Louisiana Code TITLE XXXIV for more information on criminal records expungement in Louisiana.
How to Check a Court Case Status in Louisiana
A requester can check a court case status online or in person at Louisiana Courts. In-person requests can be made by visiting the court where the case was handled. The requester would have to provide basic information about the case to facilitate the search. Alternatively, an inquirer can use online tools available on Lousiana Courts' websites to check if a case is active or closed.
How to Find Supreme Court Decisions in Louisiana
Requesters can find Lousiana Supreme Court opinions in person at the courthouse or online at the Supreme Court website. Online Supreme court opinions are available by direct link from the news release corresponding to the date of the opinion's release. The court adds new opinions to the database as released. The court releases opinions on the Friday of each sitting. Here is how to find Supreme Court opinions online:
- Go to the Supreme Court website
- Click on “Court Actions” at the top menu
- Select the appropriate court actions year
- Then select the month the opinion was uploaded
- A list of all opinions filed that month will appear
- Scroll through the list to find the required case opinions
What Percentage of Court Cases Go to Trial in Louisiana?
The 2021 Lousiana Supreme Court Annual report revealed that only 0.08% of the 493,291 criminal and civil cases filed with District courts went to jury trials. The remaining 99.92% of cases did not go to trial that year.
How Long Does a Court Case Last in Louisiana?
The time frame for court cases in Louisiana varies depending on the case. For instance, a divorce case with no minor children can last 180 days, but a case with minor children can last for a year or more.
How to File a Case in Court in Louisiana
Generally, a court case can be filed electronically or in person at the appropriate courthouse. A civil action is the only type of case people can file by themselves while criminal cases are filed by government officials. Court cases require filling out the appropriate form(s) with the clerk of court and paying the necessary filing fees. For instance, here is how to file a case electronically at the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal:
- Click on the EClerk's Counter link on the homepage
- Register for an account by clicking on Register from the left-side menu
- After creating an account, enter a username and password in the appropriate box and click the login button
- To begin filing a case, choose Efiling from the left-side menu
- A list of document types will appear, and their filing fees. The Parish pays criminal case document filing fees
- Click on the document type to be uploaded
- Type in electronic filing reference using a client number, short title case name, and document type to browse
- Click the "Browse" button to upload a document
- Click the "Add to Cart" button
- Select Continue Service Selection to add another document
- Click on Check Out Now when all necessary documents have been uploaded
- Enter Mastercard or Visa Card information and click the Continue button
- Review and confirm the purchase
- A screen will appear indicating that the transaction was successful
What Does It Mean if a Court Case Was Resolved Before the Trial Date?
Taking a case to trial can be time-consuming and expensive. However, many case parties opt for alternative ways to settle their disputes without going to trial. Here are some alternative ways of resolving disputes:
- Mediation: Case parties allow a trained, impartial person called a mediator to help them reach an agreement on the dispute. This person helps the case parties communicate and understand the matter so they can decide what works better for them. In mediation, the case parties are in charge of the outcome of the situation.
- Settlement conference: This method includes appearing before a conference facilitator (impartial judge or experienced lawyer) to resolve a dispute. A settlement conference involves neutral case evaluation, neutral fact-finding, and an impartial person's recommendation of the terms of the agreement.
- Community conferencing: This is when all the people affected by a behavior or conflict that has caused them harm gather to meet to discuss that situation. This conference is focused on reaching an agreement that will repair the harm. At the conference, the participants will discuss what happened, how they were harmed, and the best solution to repair the harm.
- Arbitration: In this method, the case parties are not responsible for the decision-making process. An arbitrator hears the argument and evidence from both parties and proffers a solution to the dispute. Arbitration can be binding or non-binding. A binding arbitration means the parties decide to accept the arbitrator's decision as final and choose not to go to trial. In non-binding arbitration, the case parties can decide not to accept the arbitrator’s decision and request a trial.
- Neutral evaluation: Case parties present their case to a neutral person. Then the person gives an opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s evidence and arguments and tells the case parties the best way to resolve their dispute.
- Plea bargain: This is when a defendant and prosecutor come to an agreement by having the defendant plead guilty to a lesser charge or only one of several charges in exchange for concessions from the prosecutor. The prosecutor would agree to rescue the defendant's punishment.