New order: Louisiana Supreme Court addresses “potential jail overcrowding”

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – In response to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Stay-at-Home order issued Sunday, the Louisiana Supreme Court on Monday issued an amended order for the state’s district and juvenile courts.

The newest order puts in even more stringent directives than the provisions set forth in orders issued March 16, and March 20, which remain in effect.

In the order, courts were told they can step up video and telephone conferencing to “alleviate potential jail overcrowding,” which the order points out, “is a public health emergency for citizens and jail personnel.”

In addition, state courts were instructed to conduct all essential court functions through video or on the telephone, including criminal matters. The order instructs courts to “take immediate measures” to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces, with absolute minimum physical contact

The latest order also extended to civil matters that were listed in the March 16 Order, which the new order says “should” be conducted through video and/or telephone conferencing.

A wide range of civil matters were specifically mentioned in the March 23 order,  “including but not limited to” civil protective orders, child in need of care proceedings, emergency child custody matters, proceedings for children removed from their home by emergency court order, proceedings related to emergency interdictions and mental health orders, temporary restraining orders and injunctions “and matters of public health related to this crisis and other emergency matters necessary to protect the health, safety and liberty of individuals as determined by each court.”

The order also allows all matters resolved by agreement of the parties and with the approval of the court that doesn’t involve appearances in court to go forward.

However, the authority doesn’t extend to anything suspended by executive action by the governor, including but not limited to evictions.

Courts are told to work with their parish clerks to encourage filings of court documents to be filed things like U.S. mail, e-filing, email or fax.

In all criminal, juvenile and civil matters handled on an emergency or expedited basis, a record shall be kept under the direction of the acting judge for each action.

Finally, the order instructs courts to follow all guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control, the President and the Governor, and to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces to the maximum number of people set forth in any future guideline or official proclamation issued.

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