Louisiana Court Records
How do Louisiana Courts work?
The highest court in the entire state of Louisiana comes in the form of the Supreme Court. It therefore has the power to oversee and check any decision made by the Court of Appeals, weighing in on any important debates or questions over law. The Court of Appeals has the power to carry out the same functions over any lower courts, but only when one party decides to contest a decision made by said court. These lower courts, and where most cases in Louisiana begin, are made up of the 64 superior or trial courts across the state’s 64 parishes.
Civil Cases and Small Claims
Louisiana courts are structured differently, depending on the type of court in question. For example, civil courts deal with cases in which the petitioner is looking for over $250,000 in their claim. Almost 250,000 of these cases are filed each and every year across Louisiana. However, non-monetary disputes can also be settled by the civil court, including cases relating to name changes, property, and restraining orders. In comparison, small claims courts deal with cases in which the claimant is seeking $3,000 or under. There are almost 150,000 of these cases annually across Louisiana. These cases may include disputes over repairs, warranties, deposits, loans, returns, and more, as long as the value is under $3,000. The small claims court also has the power to order a defendant into an action, such as paying back an amount of money.
Appeals and court limits
There are also a number of differences in both the appeals processes and the court limits placed upon small claims courts and civil courts in the state of Louisiana. Only the party who has been sued/the defendant may appeal a decision made in small claims court, while either party can appeal a decision made by the civil court. A civil court also allows a person to hire a lawyer to represent them, as well as file papers on their behalf, whereas a small claims court allows neither of these things. Pretrial discovery is allowed in civil courts, but not in small claims courts. There is a filing fee of between $30 and $100 in the small claims court, after which point each party is given 30-70 days to complete their case. The civil court charges $180-$320 per filed claim, before handing each party up to 120 days to complete their respective cases.
Why are court records public?
In 1940, the state introduced the Louisiana Public Records Act, although fresh changes came in 1974. The act was brought in to ensure that all members of the public in Louisiana had the fundamental right to access all public records held by the local and state government. Residents have the right to copy and access these files, unless another law prohibits it. This promotes a sense of transparency between the government and the public, while also safeguarding government accountability.
To access records:
Louisiana Supreme Court,
400 Royal St.,
New Orleans, LA 70130
Clerk of Court's Office (504) 310-2300
Judicial Administrator's Office (504) 310-2550